Las Vegas Sun

September 18, 2019

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Hard work pays off for Sierra Vista

It's natural for a father to help out his son, especially when the child is following in his dad's footsteps.

So less than 20 years after construction began on Swede Johnson Stadium in Eugene, Ore., Garry Selby knew exactly what his son Nate's fledgling Sierra Vista baseball team needed to be successful.

"If you're going to play baseball, you need a good facility," Garry Selby said. "If you find a nice facility, you're going to find a good coach and a good program."

So shortly after the school opened in 2001 Garry, Nate and the Sierra Vista community began working on Lion Field, a work that took hours of backbreaking labor, from pouring concrete to laying bricks to field maintenance.

"The first three years, by the time you put in a day of practice and another three hours of moving bricks and pouring concrete, these kids have been around," Nate Selby said. "They've got some calluses on their hands to prove it."

Calluses, and now rings. The Mountain Lions (34-5) won the 4A state baseball title Saturday with a 4-0 victory against Centennial at Lied Field in Henderson.

"Sometimes it feels like you've cheated the system to get here in four years. Some days it feels like it's taken forever," Nate Selby said. "We had our days being on the other side and taken our losses. It's been a community effort."

The blueprint was written long ago at North Eugene High School, most famous for producing basketball star Danny Ainge. Ainge was a baseball player at the same time Nate was a bat boy and Garry was planning the construction of his new ballpark.

"It's the same story as any place else," Garry said. "A half dozen dads and supporters that were interested in doing something. We'd been playing downtown, we couldn't host any regionals, couldn't get any dates in advance to get on things ... we decided we wanted to build something ourselves we could use. It took us about three years to build that place."

Just over three years after starting the construction of Lion Field, the work's not nearly done. But the impact is clear.

"If there's someone that should be recognized and would deny it immediately, it's Nate's dad," Sierra Vista athletic director Larry Goins said. "You can walk out on that field at any time of day, and Garry Selby is doing something."

Not only did the construction help improve the conditioning of players, it also provided time for the team to bond.

"We put in a lot of hard work, a lot of time and a lot of hours practicing," said Justin Garcia, the Lions' pitcher and first baseman who made the final tag in Saturday's title game. "It helped out the team bonding a bit - messing around, having a little fun, getting to know each other."

Garry Selby said the construction aspect also helps build up team pride.

"It's got something to do with some team pride and ownership," he said. "They've accomplished a lot besides what's on the field -- that's the important thing."

Nate Selby called his dad the "ramrod of the organization" when it comes to the construction of the facility. He said that after the first year the school opened, his dad all but gave up helping to coach, instead focusing on establishing the team's extensive Web site and building a press box and concession stand.

"When I have problems or concerns, he's the guy that's been around a long time, and he's your dad," Nate said. "You always feel like he's going to give you the best advice he can."

Garry went 904-498 as a coach at North Eugene. Nate is now 108-36 as Sierra Vista's head coach. And, Nate said, there's no doubt about which one of those 144 games was the toughest.

"Winning that last game," he said, apparently unaware that Centennial had just two runners touch second base in the entire game.

In fact, Sierra Vista handed Centennial its fourth shutout in school history just eight days after blanking the Bulldogs in the Sunset Region championship.

"It's one of the best feelings I've ever felt," said Lions pitcher Drew Leary, who gave up five hits in Saturday's shutout. "I was psyched. I really wanted the ball, I wanted to do the best I could to get to the state championship."

Marc Baca had two RBIs and a run Saturday, while designated hitter Pat Grennan went 3-for-4 with an RBI.

Sierra Vista defeated Green Valley 8-4 on Friday night to move on to the championship game. Centennial beat Spanish Springs 8-4 on Friday afternoon, then later defeated Green Valley 8-6 to advance to the championship.

It was the second-ever state championship for Sierra Vista. The Mountain Lions took last year's boys' volleyball title.

White Pine won a 12-7 slugfest against Whittell (Zephyr Cove) at The Meadows School to take the 2A championship. Battle Mountain finished in third.

At Overton, Carlin beat Wells 5-4 to win the 1A title. Calvary Chapel lost to Carlin 6-5 in the final game of the one-loss bracket.