Carlos Maldonado, a Moffat County High School senior, will try to help lead a young MCHS varsity baseball squad back to the playoffs this season. Maldonado said he thinks his offseason training will pay dividends this year as he moves to shortstop.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

Carlos Maldonado, a Moffat County High School senior, will try to help lead a young MCHS varsity baseball squad back to the playoffs this season. Maldonado said he thinks his offseason training will pay dividends this year as he moves to shortstop.

MCHS baseball team looks for upperclassmen to assume leadership roles

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Ivan Nielsen, a Moffat County High School senior, will be part of a strong one-two punch on the mound this season for the MCHS varsity baseball team along with junior Bubba Ivers. Head coach Justin Folley said Nielsen worked with assistant coach Matt Ray during the summer to help gain more stability as a pitcher.

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Justin Folley

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Matt Ray

Team at a glance ...

Coaches:

• Head coach Justin Folley

• Assistant coach Matt Ray

Seniors:

• SS Carlos Maldonado

• P Ivan Nielsen

2011 record:

• 8-9 overall, 8-4 Western Slope League

By the numbers:

3: 2012 will be head coach Justin Folley’s third year at the helm of the Bulldogs. In his first year, Folley led MCHS to five more wins and in his second year helped the team return to the playoffs.

4: The Bulldogs lost four seniors from last year’s squad — Dylon Camilletti, Kulen Turner, Ben Williams and Graig Medvesk. Williams was named Western Slope League co-player of the year as well as a first-team all-conference player along with Camilletti.

32: After a two-year hiatus, the Bulldogs returned to the playoffs last season as the 32nd and final seed. MCHS struggled at the plate in an 8-0 loss to No. 1 Palmer Ridge.

Schedule ...

Remaining 2012 Moffat County High School varsity baseball schedule:

(Time — date — place — host/opponent)

• 4 p.m. — March 24 — away — Battle Mountain High School

• 6 p.m. — March 24 — away — Battle Mountain High School

• 3 p.m. — March 27 — home — Union High School

• 3 p.m. — March 29 — away — Union High School

• 11 a.m. — March 31 — home — Eagle Valley High School

• 1 p.m. — March 31 — home — Eagle Valley High School

• 3 p.m. — April 12 — away — Rangely High School

• 11 a.m. — April 14 — away — Delta High School

• 1 p.m. — April 14 — away — Delta High School

• 3 p.m. — April 19 — home — Rangely High School

• 11 a.m. — April 21 — home — Palisade High School

• 1 p.m. — April 21 — home — Palisade High School

• 11 a.m. — April 28 — away — Steamboat Springs High School

• 1 p.m. — April 28 — away — Steamboat Springs High School

• 11 a.m. — May 5 — home — Glenwood Springs High School

• 1 p.m. — May 5 — home — Glenwood Springs High School

The Moffat County High School varsity baseball team’s trip to the 4A state playoffs last season was no fluke.

Four seniors, including 4A Western Slope League co-player of the year Ben Williams, anchored the team.

The Bulldogs scored double-digit runs in six games and routinely saw the ball fly out of the park at the hands of multiple batters.

But this season, head coach Justin Folley said how his players fill the roles of the four departed seniors will determine if the Bulldogs make it back to the playoffs.

Williams and Dylon Camilletti were named to the WSL first team last season and Graig Medvesk was an honorable mention.

Kulen Turner routinely made big plays both offensively and defensively.

Folley, who is entering his third year as skipper of the Bulldogs, said it would be up to seniors Carlos Maldonado and Ivan Nielsen, as well as junior Bubba Ivers, to push the team to perform.

“It is going to take a lot of hard work and patience to get back to the playoffs,” he said. “Last year was a good season, but I don’t want the guys to think the playoffs are guaranteed. We are going to have to work hard with the young group so they can help us get back in.”

Ivers was also named to the WSL first team last season and Maldonado garnered an honorable mention selection.

Maldonado said the first order of business is to get younger players ready to contribute.

“We are going to have to help the younger players more with the fundamentals and just playing the game,” he said. “They need to learn about getting a good angle on the ball in the field and how to read the ball coming off the bat.”

Maldonado will adjust to his role of filling in for the graduated seniors by stepping in for Camilletti on both sides of the plate.

The senior will make the move to shortstop and be the leadoff hitter for the Bulldogs.

Maldonado had to work through a back injury last season, but rarely left the field.

“Carlos is a kid who can play any position on the field because he knows the game that well,” Folley said. “At shortstop, he will be my leader on the field and I have no doubts he can succeed there.

“As leadoff batter, he doesn’t necessarily have the speed Dylon had, but I think he will step up and get on base and start us off strong.”

Maldonado said he worked hard in the offseason to get in the right shape to succeed at shortstop.

“As shortstop, I am going to have to take control of the whole baseball diamond,” he said. “I think I got faster in the offseason and that is going to help me get to more balls and be able to help teammates.

“I’m ready to do what is needed out there.”

Folley said Nielsen and Ivers can both contribute at the plate as batters, but their biggest contribution will be stopping opposing batters.

Williams was the Bulldogs’ ace last season, but MCHS also lost its No. 2 pitcher, Hayden junior Mark Doolin, who didn’t return to the team this season.

“Our main concern this season is going to be pitching,” Folley said. “We have Bubba at No. 1 and Ivan at No. 2, but there are some kids here who will compete for those spots as well.”

Folley said he feels Ivers is ready to be the team’s ace, and while Nielsen didn’t get as much time on the mound last season, the coach believes he is ready for the challenge.

“Ivan worked a lot during the summer trying to develop more of a routine on the mound,” he said. “Coach (Matt) Ray worked with him on building some more stability and the ability to find what works for him when he steps on the mound.”

With such a young squad, Folley said team unity would be a big factor this season.

And, while the team lost some key players, he said he feels the Bulldogs have the right parts to make it back to the playoffs.

“I think team unity will be big this year and I expect our defense to step it up,” Folley said. “We struggled on defense last year in spots, but we have worked on filling those weaknesses.

“If the guys can push each other to work hard, I think we can be a tough team to beat.”

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