HARRISON, Tenn. (WRCB) -- Colton Morgan still vividly remembers his final walk off the mound at Chattanooga State last week.
Central's senior ace turned to see a dozen purple-and-black clad teammates heading his way, arms and smiles wide after the Pounders clinched the District 6-AA championship.
"It was like nothing I've ever experienced before," the lanky right-hander said. "Words just can't describe how great it felt."
Central baseball's first district crown in a decade certainly feels a lot like destiny.
On a varsity roster of 15 players, nine of them are seniors. It's a close-knit, diverse group that met in little league before fanning out across the Chattanooga area.
Those who remained in Harrison took their lumps as youngsters on the high school level, but gained valuable experience.
"We had about five of these kids that started a lot of games as freshmen," head coach Glen Carter said. "They've seen the ups and downs and the easy and the hard, so they're well equipped to handle anything that comes their way."
One by one over the past few years, the remaining members of this special class returned.
Chase Spurgeon, who transferred from Ooltewah after having Tommy John surgery last year, and Bo Evans, who transferred from East Ridge, were the final pieces of a puzzle years in the making.
"We've been climbing up each year and getting comfortable playing together for awhile," said catcher Ryan Poole. "Some of these people on the team I've played with since I was 6 years old."
That chemistry has been key.
The Pounders squandered a four-run lead and lost the district tournament championship to Red Bank a year ago, then were bounced on the road in the first round of regionals.
The memory stuck with the senior class, and the motivation spread to the newcomers. Collectively the group set a goal to not just win a district title in 2013, but win it convincingly.
"We're all different, very different, but we come together and make it work," said Morgan.
Indeed, the plan worked to perfection.
Central finished an unblemished 14-0 in district play for the first time in recent memory. They capped the historic run with a two-game sweep over rival East Hamilton, who had also entered the matchup unbeaten at 12-0 in the league.
"Learning how to win and how to handle the success was something we had to adjust to, but this is a great group of kids," Carter said. "They are very level-headed and they let nothing go to their heads."
The Pounders will get a chance to prove that this week when the enter the district tournament as the No. 1 seed. They will surely celebrate their remarkable 25-7 regular season, their undefeated district schedule and their long-awaited district title, but they first plan to make sure that is not where their storybook season ends.
"The goal that you reached is great, but there's no trophy for it. There's just the sense of accomplishment," said Carter. "With the tournament everyone is back to 0-0. You have to fight for everything you want to get."
"We will always have that legacy of going undefeated in the district in the regular season," added Morgan, "but right now we have to go back to taking it one game at a time and make the most of the opportunity it gives us in the postseason."
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