PHOENIX, Ariz. – As the snow dusted the front range of the Colorado mountains, the Centaurus baseball team was shedding layers as the temperatures climbed north of 70 degrees.

This is a common practice for a lot of Colorado teams as they depart school from spring break and head southwest to the Arizona sunshine.

The Phoenix and Scottsdale area is ground zero for the game of baseball in March. Pro teams prepare for long haul of the regular season during Spring Training and high school teams from around the country chase a friendlier baseball climate, a team building experience and a high level of competition.

“We have an opportunity to build some team unity,” coach Doug Kinney said. “We get to see some out-of-state teams and see some things that we wouldn’t see from teams in Colorado. And it helps fill our non-schedule. The teams they pair us up with are very competitive.”

The Warriors (3-2 overall) battled in an 8-6 loss to La Grande (Ore.) but by no means was it an easy win for the Tigers. According to the Portland Tribune, La Grande was the Class 4A state champion in Oregon in 2022, but it was the Warriors pushing them to the limit.

Centaurus jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first and shook off some sloppy defense to regain the lead in the top of the sixth.

Zak White went 2-for-4 with a double and a pair of RBIs in the loss. Jaden Mirsky also drove in two runs. With the game on the line in the bottom of the seventh, the tying run was on base with Jon Lesker at the plate.

(Dan Mohrmann/

The junior was hitting .611 coming into the game and was the ideal guy to have with a bat in his hand. Unfortunately, a fly ball to center field ended the hopes of a win for the Warriors but that game experience is vital for them moving forward.

“It helps so much,” Lesker said. “We just have to remember that this is a childhood game. I just try to have fun and not think about anything else.”

Part of the fun in this game at this time of year is the ability to enjoy it without worrying about the elements. In the Boulder area, the high reached about 35 degrees on Monday. That’s tough baseball weather and it’s not the best when trying to prepare the teams in the state for a full season run.

That’s why so many teams venture to spots like Phoenix. It helps with the process of ramping up preparation and getting ready for the games when they really count in late April and May.

“You have to wrap your arms around everything you get out here,” Kinney said. “The coaching that you see, the fields that we get to practice and play at. All in all we get better and it’s a different experience than what we get at home.”

The Warriors will face two more Oregon teams before departing. They play Taft on Tuesday and will face Lincoln on Wednesday. They return home to play Mead on Saturday.