Atascadero High School baseball coach Joe Davis doesn’t remember the last time the Greyhounds went to a CIF championship game.
For how their season has gone, not dwelling in the past has paid dividends.
Atascadero lost in walk-off fashion to Santa Maria, Paso Robles and St. Joseph through its first six games.
The Greyhounds (14-17) finished 5-7 in the competitive Mountain League behind Righetti, Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo.
Now, after Atascadero beat Templeton 4-3 on Wednesday in the semifinals of the CIF-Division 3 playoffs, it will be the only team of the bunch still playing — and they’ll be playing for a championship.
“One of the reasons I think we’re doing what we’re doing is we’ve never looked past the game that’s in front of us,” Davis said. “Now that we’re (at the championship game), we’ll look at it.”
The Greyhounds trailed Templeton 3-2 after the third inning but found a way to score two runs in the bottom of the fifth — capitalizing on throwing errors by the Eagles (7-17-1) — to win.
Early in the season, Atascadero would have been on the other end.
“We were close,” Davis said of his early season team. “We just weren’t quite there yet. We weren’t quite at a point where we were ready to play.”
It would have been easy for the Greyhounds to write the season off after a 2-8 start.
“The best part about the kids — losing those (games) in the beginning — it never ruined our morale. They never came out and didn’t practice hard. I think that is a big credit to them, working through that part and getting to here,” Davis said.
He said it wasn’t until the team split its series with Arroyo Grande on the last game of the regular season that he felt they had turned the corner in close games.
The biggest change driving the team’s success, Davis said, is the hitters’ approach.
“We’ve finally gotten to the point where the mental approach ’s one pitch at a time,” Davis said. “‘What’s my idea when I step in the box?’ Not just stepping in and doing whatever you want and not having a clue.
“So, I think that’s what’s gotten us to that next point.”
Six different players had a hit in the semifinal.
The other change has been pitching. Cade Van Allen had 10 strikeouts in five innings against Templeton, allowing two earned runs, and Evyn Lade pitched two more, striking out three.
“Our pitching has been awesome, from Evyn Lade to Cade, to Justin Vose. Our pitching has really grown,” Davis said.
Macer Lardner had a two-run single, and Robbie Lardner had a double for the Eagles.
The No. 12 seeded Greyhounds, who have now won four games in a row, will face No. 3 seeded Highland (28-2), which beat Nipomo 6-1 on Wednesday in the other semifinal game.
More Central Coast CIF-Central Section semifinal playoff scores:
Clovis 7, San Luis Obispo 5
Frontier 2, Righetti 1
Highland 6, Nipomo 1
Bullard 6, Paso Robles 1
Stockdale 1, Atascadero 0
Hanford 5, San Luis Obispo 0
Templeton 14, Selma 3
Championship: Dinuba at Templeton, 11:30 a.m. Saturday