Gabe Maldonado, a Moffat County High School sophomore, practices March 11 at the field outside of Craig Middle School. The MCHS varsity baseball team has only three seniors and will look to younger players to push the team to the playoffs.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

Gabe Maldonado, a Moffat County High School sophomore, practices March 11 at the field outside of Craig Middle School. The MCHS varsity baseball team has only three seniors and will look to younger players to push the team to the playoffs.

MCHS Bulldogs moving forward with young baseball team this season

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Kulen Turner, a Moffat County High School senior, practices hitting outside of Craig Middle School. Turner, along with fellow seniors Ben Williams and Dylon Camilletti, will be the leaders of a young Bulldogs team this season.

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Justin Folley

BULLDOGS AT A GLANCE:

Coach: Justin Folley

2010 record: 8-9 overall, 6-8 WSL

Returning seniors:

(Name — position)

Dylon Camilletti — shortstop

Kulen Turner — outfielder/first base

Ben Williams — starting pitcher

Players to watch:

• Camilletti, a senior and first-team all-conference shortstop last season for the Bulldogs.

• Carlos Maldonado, a junior, played summer baseball for Folley and has helped the Bulldogs in his first two seasons.

• Mark Doolin, a Hayden High School sophomore, had a breakout season as a freshman pitcher and will be relied on even more in his second year.

SCHEDULE:

Moffat County High School varsity baseball team’s remaining schedule:

Time Date Place Opponent

11 a.m. March 26 Home Battle Mountain High School

1 p.m. March 26 Home Battle Mountain High School

4 p.m. March 29 Away Steamboat Springs High School

11 a.m. April 2 Away Eagle Valley High School

1 p.m. April 2 Away Eagle Valley High School

4 p.m. April 14 Home Rangely High School

6 p.m. April 14 Home Rangely High School

11 a.m. April 16 Home Delta High School

1 p.m. April 16 Home Delta High School

2:30 p.m. April 21 Away Rangely High School

4:30 p.m. April 21 Away Rangely High School

11 a.m. April 23 Away Palisade High School

1 p.m. April 23 Away Palisade High School

4 p.m. May 3 Home Steamboat Springs High School

6 p.m. May 3 Home Steamboat Springs High School

11 a.m. May 7 Away Glenwood Springs High School

1 p.m. May 7 Away Glenwood Springs High School

The Moffat County High School varsity baseball team packed its season up early in 2010 after being left out of the playoffs due to a head-to-head tiebreaker.

But, in Justin Folley’s first year as skipper of the Bulldogs, he led his team to a five-game improvement in overall record with the help of seven seniors.

This season’s iteration will look a little different. Those seven seniors who were crucial to last season’s team have graduated.

“We are a young team,” Folley said. “We have 16 players and only four are seniors and two are juniors with the rest being underclassmen.”

Still, despite the Bulldogs’ youth, the team will rely on a senior core, Folley said. Three seniors — Dylon Camilletti, Kulen Turner and Hayden’s Ben

Williams — have been with the team all four years.

This will be Hayden’s Graig Medvesk first year on the Bulldogs team.

“The seniors know what the Moffat County baseball program is all about,” Folley said. “They are all talented and will help teach the younger players the basic fundamentals.

“I only have three (returning seniors), but I am happy with the three I have.”

Williams, who broke his hand toward the end of last season, will be a starting pitcher for the team.

“I played summer ball, so I haven’t sat a whole year, which has helped,” Williams said of coming back from the injury. “Everyone knows what our goals are this year, so I just hope to lead by example.”

Camilletti, a first-team all-conference shortstop last season, said the team has one primary goal — winning the Western Slope League.

“I think we are going to be the underdogs in our conference this year,” he said. “Us seniors have been with Folley all four years as either head coach or assistant, and we have to pass his system on to the younger ones.”

No matter the team’s youth, Folley said his players bonded over the summer during American Legion play.

“All the guys work together and they work hard,” he said. “A good team is a good team and it doesn’t matter how young they are.”

Due to the weather, the Bulldogs had to practice in the MCHS gymnasium for the first two to three weeks of the season.

While inside, Folley said he worked with his players on basic drills.

“We kind of had to start from scratch because the guys do other sports and haven’t really had time to work on baseball,” he said. “Three weeks isn’t really enough time to prepare for our first game, especially when we are inside, but we did what we could.”

Compared to last season’s team, Folley said this year’s offense would not be as explosive.

“We are really going to work on hitting because I think our offense will be a little on the slow side,” he said. “With losing the seven seniors, we lost our three, four and five hitters as well as a really good number two hitter.

“Our defense is good, but our main thing is to rebuild our offense.”

Folley said he will definitely look to his seniors to have breakout seasons, but also a few underclassmen he expects to help the team.

MCHS junior Carlos Maldonado played summer ball with the team, Folley said, and has the ability to be a good baseball player.

Folley said one of the Bulldogs’ weaknesses this season will be at the catcher position, but with Maldonado’s athletic ability to play any position, he expects to have him help in that area.

Mark Doolin, a Hayden High School sophomore, will be relied on more in his second year as a pitcher.

“Mark did a fantastic job in his freshman season as a pitcher,” Folley said. “We are going to rely on him to step up this year to help us with pitching.”

Although the team only won two games during summer league play, Folley said the experience was the biggest gain for his players.

“We all know each other and the program now and the players know what to expect with me,” he said. “I am defensive minded, and they got a feel for that.”

Before his first season, Folley said making the playoffs was his main goal. In his second year, Folley hasn’t wavered from that objective.

“Other teams in our league are rebuilding, too, but we will still have a good conference,” he said. “It is a realistic goal to make the playoffs, and that is not just wishful thinking.”

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