For Trevor Swartz personally, this has been the goal for the past four seasons.
Looking at it from a different perspective, though, this is an opportunity for Swartz and the rest of the Evergreen baseball team that is now 35 years in the making.
“I’m loving it this year,” said Swartz, in his fourth year on varsity. “Over the last couple of years, it really humbled me. Losing sucks. You have to work really hard to be on top.”
It is not a done deal — the Plainsmen are not celebrating anything — but Evergreen is in first place in the Class 3A Greater St. Helens League two-thirds of the way through the schedule.
If they win out, the Plainsmen will stand alone as league champions. If they go 4-1, they will at least share the league crown.
That has not happened at Evergreen since 1982.
If it happens, junior catcher Nate Tomas said it would only signal a new beginning for the program.
“It would be the start. We were down, but we’re trying to build this back up,” he said.
“We’ve been working toward it for a long time,” pitcher Tommy Snyder added. “It would be great to finally get there.”
Evergreen coach Chad Burchett, who took over the program in 2010, wants to add a league title banner in the school gymnasium. That last one for baseball is way too old for his liking.
“That was kind of my goal when I started. We want to get something up there,” he said.
Today’s Plainsmen know how long it has been.
“That would be something I’ve always wanted … just so everyone remembers this senior class,” Swartz said. “‘Those guys actually did it that year. They came out and did what they were supposed to do.'”
They also know the competition. They understand this will not be easy.
“In our minds, we have to win out. The way Mountain View is playing, the way Kelso is playing …” Burchett said. “If we can win out, we’ll make a little history for the school.”
The Plainsmen are 8-2 in league play. They have gone 2-1 against Kelso and are 1-1 against the Thunder with one more to play. Both of those teams have three league losses going into this week.
Evergreen’s success on the field begins with pitching and defense, the coach said. The Plainsmen rarely overpower anyone with bats alone.
The key to the team’s performance has been a collective effort off the field, too. The Plainsmen have bought into Burchett’s plan to not worry about individual statistics.
“It’s not a selfish sport. It’s a team sport,” Swartz said.
The Plainsmen served notice to the rest of the league by winning every game in the first round of league play.
One was a thriller against Kelso. Tied in the top of the seventh inning, Evergreen outfielder Luke Allen robbed a Kelso home run, jumping and then stretching over the fence to make the catch. In the bottom of the inning, Swartz blasted a home run to center field for the walk-off win.
Last week, in the third game against Kelso, Cameron Hunt and Snyder combined on a five-hit shutout to win the season series. Snyder came into the game with runners on second and third — his first relief appearance of the spring — and got out of the jam.
“It was a tough situation but I wasn’t worried,” Snyder said. “Just really excited to get the opportunity in such a big game.”
For the first time in years, the Plainsmen are now in a lot of big games.
They are not taking anything for granted.
“It’s still baseball,” Tomas said. “Every game is a hard game. You still have to compete.”
Still, they can enjoy this journey.
“The first years were rough,” Swartz said of playing for the Plainsmen. “We could do big things, then get disappointed. It put a fire in my stomach to do better.
“To see it turn around, it makes me happy to be in this position we are in right now.”