'Team One' setting foundation for success at Crismon

Apr. 23—Crismon High School has found itself nestled inside a part of the far southeast Valley that has become a baseball mecca as of late.

One mile north and the Rattlers run into Queen Creek, a top-ranked team in the 6A Conference. Head a mile west and they'll find Casteel, a top team in 5A.

Queen Creek and south Chandler have become a hotbed for high school baseball talent, with multiple Division I players ready to take the next step after high school. And in just its second year and first varsity season, Crismon is ready to join the other two to create a trio of top programs that span across three different conferences.

"Queen Creek is a baseball town," Crismon coach Greg Bordes said. "That was another reason for coming out here, there are many great players. I've reaped the benefits of that with this program. They've come in and have bought in to the culture and foundation we're laying. I can't speak highly enough about this group that I've got."

Crismon's baseball program has benefitted from transfers, as many as 12 from surrounding areas and most notably Queen Creek High School. Some players came as soon as the school opened. Others waited until last season or this year.

Either way, they've all come together to form what they're calling "Team One." In simple terms, it's the first varsity team at Crismon along with the first graduating class that'll come next spring in 2025.

But to Bordes and the players, it means more. They're setting the foundation, which so far appears to be strong.

"Being a new school, we get to establish a new culture and build our own culture," junior Diego Hernandez said. "A lot of people don't get that opportunity. We want to build a culture of toughness, especially mentally."

Crismon finished the season 20-5-1 overall in its first varsity season. That helped the Rattlers earn the No. 10 spot in the 3A Conference playing as an independent and not aligned to a specific region.

They've faced the likes of Mesquite in 4A, Ironwood Ridge in 5A and several out-of-state programs in tournaments. They've shown they belong and the talent they have. But that was made even more apparent just a few weeks ago when they hung around Saguaro, the top-ranked team in 4A with a potential first-round MLB draft pick in the lineup in Cam Caminiti.

Bordes believes those types of matchups only helped strengthen his team. It gave them confidence to compete against anybody.

That's resonated throughout the season.

"We're setting the standard for what is to come, who we are and what we're going to be, too," Lopez said. "It's all about the little things. We go out and lift, we don't take days off. Even on days where there isn't much motivation, we're disciplined."

Both Lopez and Hernandez were part of the mass transfers that came over from Queen Creek. Hernandez came first over a year ago, Lopez followed this season.

They both saw it as an opportunity to grow a new program and make it their own, in a way. Bordes has allowed them to do that.

They've all bought in to his vision. They trust him based on his own playing career and what he accomplished at Dobson and Arizona State. They also know of his coaching background, which took him through the college ranks.

He doesn't see himself as a superior to his players. If anything, he tries to relate to them on a personal level. For that, they love playing for him and most importantly, playing for each other.

"It's all about them. This isn't about me," Bordes said. "I tell them all the time this is their program, I'm just here to try to steer them in the right direction. I've been fortunate to be around a lot of good baseball coaches. I'm trying to take a little bit from them and apply it here.

"If they hold each other accountable, we can do special things. I think we've positioned ourselves to hopefully make a run at this thing."

Crismon has an opportunity to make an already special season one for the history books this season. The Rattlers are battle tested. They have talent up and down their lineup and they're motivated to make "Team One" one that will forever be remembered for numerous things.

For starters, they developed the culture of Crismon baseball. They established a foundation that, as of now, will revolve around not settling for anything but competitive baseball.

But there's one ultimate goal they're after they feel they can make happen: a state title.

They would become one of few teams to ever capture a championship in their first varsity season. Perhaps, the only one ever. But they're confident they can accomplish that goal.

"We've had that goal since day one," Lopez said. "We're 'Team One.' May 13 we are going to be there. If we aren't, the other team got lucky."

Have an interesting story? Contact Zach Alvira at (480)898-5630 or Follow him on Twitter @ZachAlvira.