For Hailey's James Cordes, it was a successful first year of coaching in the highly competitive Southern California high school baseball wars.
Cordes, 27, a 2000 Wood River High School graduate, guided the Redlands East Valley (Calif.) Wildcats into the Final Four of the 64-team CIF Southern Section Division 2 state tournament for schools with 1,100-2,399 student populations.
The Wildcats (23-7) started the 2009 season with a 1-3 record, then won 22 of their next 26 games, including a 10-game late-season winning streak that carried them into Tuesday's semi-final game against Encino Crespi Carmelite High School.
Averaging over .400 in team batting average and 8.5 runs per game, Citrus Belt League runner-up Redlands East Valley knuckled down and won its first four playoff games by a combined 24-4 score. That included REV's 3-2 eight-inning home win over top-ranked defending state champion El Toro of Lake Forest on May 26.
But Tuesday's 7-5 loss to Encino Crespi (20-11) kept the Wildcats from advancing into Saturday's state championship game at Angels Stadium in Anaheim. Still, it was quite a run for Cordes' squad. A highlight was a 12-2 victory over the No. 4-ranked team in the U.S., Yucaipa High School, on April 17.
Cordes, an English teacher at Redlands East Valley, was a three-sport athlete at Wood River who played four years of college baseball at the University of Redlands. He started his coaching with the Wood River Babe Ruth 13-year-olds in 2002.