Durango reached its turning point April 10 at home against Montrose - a 9-8 defeat that put the Demons' baseball team at 2-2 in league play.The coach prodded his team to produce. "Win out," he recalled saying, which meant a pair of tough home wins in their next two games against the Southwestern League's best.
Durango ended then-first place Grand Junction's undefeated SWL run at 5-0.
Durango backed that up with another home victory against then-second place Fruita Monument.
Durango then beat Montezuma-Cortez, Fruita Monument again, Grand Junction Central and Montezuma-Cortez again - all four victories the Demons scored 14 runs or more.
Durango won out, won its first Class 5A Southwestern League championship and first SWL title since 1996 and earned the No. 15 seed in the Colorado High School Activities Association Class 5A District Tournament.
"I think it's a fair shake," Durango High School baseball coach Rob Coddington said Wednesday.
Durango (13-6 overall) will play No. 18 ThunderRidge (13-6) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Cherry Creek High School in the Front Range.
"They've played some good teams," said Coddington, who was still trying to gather information on the Demons' first-round playoff opponent. "They've beat some good teams.
"It should be a competitive baseball game; then again, it's the state playoffs, so they're all going to be competitive baseball games at this point."
Cherry Creek, the No. 2 seed in the 32-team state tournament, will host District 5.
Cherry Creek (15-4) will play No. 31 Fountain-Fort Carson (10-9) at 10 a.m. Saturday. The winners will meet in the district championship at 3 p.m. Saturday.
"Show up and play your game," Coddington said. "Any team - any day - can show up and make it happen."
Durango will throw seniors Aaron Coats and Ben Southworth at ThunderRidge, then worry about the district championship if necessary.
"We've gotten good performances out of Aaron and Ben, all of our guys really," Coddington said. "We can't overlook anybody.
"It's that old baseball adage: One game at a time."
Durango last reached the playoffs in 2005, when the Demons defeated Ponderosa 4-3 then lost to Cherry Creek 13-3 in the district championship.
Again, the legendary program hosted its district tournament.
"They're solid," Coddington said. "We watched them play at a (Connie Mack) tournament (last summer) in Texas. They're a traditionally good baseball team.
"Again, first thing's first, though - ThunderRidge is a good team.
"What we're going to try and apply is to just pay attention to us and our game," Coddington said. "I've got a lot of confidence in these guys right now."
Rampart earned the No. 1 seed in the state tournament with an 18-1 record.
Grand Junction (15-3) is the 16-seed on the other half of Rampart's district bracket and will open against Ralston Valley (14-5) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Rampart High School.
No. 3 Rocky Mountain (15-4), No. 4 Mountain Vista (15-4), No. 5 Green Mountain (16-3), No. 6 Fort Collins (16-3), No. 7 Grandview (13-6) and No. 8 Regis Jesuit (15-3) also will host district tournaments.
Coddington and the Demons will leave for Cherry Creek on Friday morning.
"The guys are excited," he said. "If you're going to win in the playoffs, you beat these good teams at some point. We deserve to be where we're at."