After an opening weekend of scrimmages, the Bulldogs varsity baseball team will dive right into the season at the Montrose Tournament this Friday and Saturday.
Class 4A Moffat County High School (MCHS) will face the first pitch of the regular season against the Class 3A Paonia Eagles at 1 p.m. Friday. The winner will move on to play the winner of Montrose and Glenwood Springs at 11:15 a.m in the championship game Saturday. The loser will play the Montrose vs. Glenwood Springs loser at 9 a.m. Saturday.
The Bulldogs were able to take ground balls Monday at the Craig Middle School baseball field the MCHS home field for the first time this season.
"We had a really positive week of practice," said coach Kip Hafey. "The kids really worked hard. We got a lot of stuff in and we really worked on getting the little things done, fielding ground balls and making routine plays."
"We should play pretty good in Montrose. We played pretty ground in Grand Junction," said senior Mike Knoche. "We just need to make routine plays. It's all about making routine plays.
According to Hafey, MCHS will get tested in the first game.
"Paonia is a strong team," said Hafey. "Three out of the last four years they won the Class 3A state championship. Last year they made it to the semifinals before they got beat."
Players on the team will have to work hard in practice to get into the starting lineup.
"We don't have a set starting lineup. We will just go with who is producing and that is how it goes in baseball," said Hafey. "It is a game of streaks. Our lineups will change and they won't stay the same."
Seniors on the Bulldogs roster are Josh Bower, Brandon Carrera, Justin Hollingsworth, Matt Johnston, Justin Magnuson, Mike Knoche, Mike St. Martin, Chris Weible and Grady Wilson.
"We have a great senior group," said Hafey. "The seniors are ready to go and they have been working hard. They have been keeping everybody intense in practice and that's what we need."
Hafey doesn't have a set pitching rotation.
"Pitching-wise we will do what we have do to win," said Hafey. "If that means throwing seven guys in one game that's what we are going to do. The pitchers know that and they have been working really hard."
MCHS will be at full strength this weekend. Basketball players junior Jeff Gaylord, Magnuson, junior Kevin Voorhees, junior C.J. Rugh and sophomore Chris Field turned their basketball shoes in for baseball cleats.
"It's very nice to have the basketball players playing baseball," said Hafey. "The whole team was very excited to see them out there.
"They had a great basketball season and they are ready to have a successful baseball season."