After reaching the CHSAA 5A State Playoffs for the second time in as many years, Arapahoe High School head coach Jim Dollaghan is starting to turn a lot of heads around the state. This past season, the Warriors finished regular season play with a 12-7 record and the 8th seed in the playoffs, giving them home field advantage for their regional. They faced off against Prairie View and Fort Collins, winning both games behind complete game pitching efforts by seniors Garrett Declue and Tyler Banks. Matched up against Mountain Vista in the first round, the Warriors handed the #1 ranked team in Colorado their first, and only loss of the 2018 campaign. Following that upset, they defeated Cherokee Trail 9-1 to advance to the final four. Even though they’d lose their next two matchups, their season was nothing short of incredible.
Although the progress was not seen until the big spotlight, the foundation for a deep playoff run was being built well before the spring season.
“I realized we had something special last summer,” Class of 2019 pitcher Steve Ingalls said. “We all gelled really well together during that time and recognized that a lot of pieces were going to fall into place for our success.”
Coach Dollaghan preaches a team first mindset and he requires all of his players to have a “we before me” mindset. Since Coach Dollaghan took over the Arapahoe baseball program prior to the 2017 spring season, the Warriors hold a 27-18 overall record with two playoff berths. He has implemented a new coaching style that is obviously successful and that his players enjoy being a part of.
“Dollaghan is very much a player’s coach,” Ingalls said. “He lets the team manage itself for the most part and guides us in the right direction. I personally love coaches like that. It makes me feel like I’m in more control of my play and can have more freedom on the field.”
While a lot of winning programs find success through only playing upperclassmen, Coach Dollaghan makes it a point to break that traditional mold and use all of his best talent to his advantage.
“Dollaghan helped me grow individually by putting me in tough situations and showing that I can be that clutch man when we really need it,” Class of 2020 pitcher Spye Turnbeaugh said. Turnbeaugh finished the year with a stunning 0.52 ERA in 13.1 innings pitched as a sophomore.
Coach Dollaghan is obviously striving for an elite baseball program, but he is looking to teach his players much more than just baseball skills. He holds his players to very high standards, both on and off the field.
“He expects us to carry ourselves the same off the field as he does on,” Ingalls said. “He expects professionalism, responsibility and character.”
Coach Dollaghan and the Warriors will return 10 varsity players in 2019, who now have a final four appearance under their belt. This group now knows exactly what it takes to win at the highest level and how to manage the spotlight. With Coach Dollaghan at the helm, the Warriors are definitely a team to watch out for in 2019.