Infielders on the Moffat County baseball team work on quick pickups in the Moffat County High School gym. The Bulldogs have a young team but still lots of returning talent. They hope to be practicing outside soon and anticipate a good year after last season's 6-11 mark.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

Infielders on the Moffat County baseball team work on quick pickups in the Moffat County High School gym. The Bulldogs have a young team but still lots of returning talent. They hope to be practicing outside soon and anticipate a good year after last season's 6-11 mark.

Moffat County baseball focused on defense for 2014

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Moffat County baseball 2014 schedule

March 8 at Aspen 11 a.m.

March 15 vs. Olathe 11 a.m.

March 22 at Grand Valley 11 a.m.

March 29 vs. Gunnison 11 a.m.

April 12 at Cedaredge 11 a.m.

April 15 at Steamboat 3 p.m.

April 19 vs. Basalt 11 a.m.

April 26 at Coal Ridge 11 a.m.

May 3 vs. Roaring Fork 11 a.m.

*All dates include double headers, with first game starting at the above time and second game following.

While there are some questions to be answered when it takes to the diamond, optimism surrounds the Moffat County baseball team as the 2014 season approaches.

The Bulldogs suffered through inconsistency last season and finished 6-11. They also lost seven seniors from that group and will count on several less experienced players to fill the void this year. But listening to the leaders of the team tell the story, that might not be a problem.

“We’ve only got four starters back from last year but the thing is there’s some good talent here,” said senior first baseman Colton Yoast.

One of the largest gaps for Moffat County this season is on the mound. Bubba Ivers and Wyatt Oberwitte started the majority of the games last season, with Ivers’ high velocity fastball carrying a few games.

“We don’t have that dominant fastball this year that can get you through a game,” said head coach Justin Folley. “So the defense is going to have to be ready to make plays. Sheldon (Greenwood) started some games for us last year and I’ll be able to rely on him. The thing about that is he pitches to contact. So again, the defense is going to have to be good.”

Greenwood figures he’ll be starting, but beyond that the pitching for the Bulldogs is wide open. Unless one player showcases an arm no one knew about, it will likely be a pitching-by-committee situation to finish games.

“We’re going to give pretty much everybody a shot, at least in the bullpen,” Greenwood said. “See what they can do and then go from there.”

The other key for Moffat County this season will be consistency on defense. During several double headers, which make up the bulk of the Bulldogs’ season, last year Moffat played one excellent game and one littered with errors, taking away their chance to win.

Yoast recalled last year’s game vs. Gunnison, in which the Bulldogs lost 15-3 then won 14-3, as an example.

“Last year we had some days where we didn’t wake up for the first game. I remember against Gunnison we weren’t awake for the first game and made a ton of errors,” he said. “Then in the second game we beat them easily. We have to come and be awake for every game so we don’t give any away.”

Some of that defensive improvement could come if the warm weather that has hovered over Craig in February continues. Last year the Bulldogs could hardly practice on a field for the first month and a half of their season, missing out on the repetition necessary to be successful in baseball.

“Getting outside and even just seeing a baseball in the sun, that can make a huge difference,” Folley said.

The work ethic and willingness to put good practice time in has Greenwood excited for a potential bounce-back season.

“I think we’ve got a great shot to have a good season,” he said. “The attitude is really good this year and that can make a big difference.”

Contact Nate Waggenspack at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@craigdailypress.com.

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