Canyon Del Oro's Len Anderson, head coach of the newly crowned 4A-I state champion baseball team, had a lot to be happy about after Friday's come-from-behind victory semifinal win over Phoenix Sandra Day O'Connor.
When asked about junior catcher Corey Fujimoto's role on the team, Anderson makes it clear he's been happy for quite some time.
"He's the kind of guy, that when you coach for 30 years, you don't get too many like him," said Anderson. "He's a very quiet guy, but he always plays hard."
Fujimoto's play in the nail-biting, last-inning semifinal win at Tempe Diablo Stadium was stellar on both sides of the plate, but his defense helped CDO prevent runs that might have otherwise been game-winners for the Eagles.
The junior threw out two runners attempting to steal second base, was a part of two pickle situations at third, both resulting in outs, and did not allow a passed ball all game.
In addition, Fujimoto calls all the Dorados' pitches, because, as Anderson stated simply, "we trust him."
The throw-downs were part of a strategy developed before the game, according to Fujimoto.
"We knew they were a running team coming into it," he said after the game. "I was just trying not to overthrow the ball – I haven't thrown out a lot of runners this year, so this was a pretty big game for me."
On offense, although Fujimoto did not record a hit, he reached base twice, both times the result of being plunked by O'Connor pitcher Bryce Keffler.
Fujimoto responded to this seemingly painful way of generating offense with a typically understated response.
"Just taking it for the team," he said with a smile.
That kind of selflessness and commitment to the Dorados helped the team hoist the championship trophy, and Anderson is looking forward to more of the same in the future from his catcher.
"He's the consummate teammate," said Anderson. "Everybody loves him."