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The out-of-towners

Hayden's Bryan Richards quietly excels for MCHS baseball team

They call him Jebediah, or “Jebe,” for short. Bryan Richards doesn’t know from where the nickname comes, but the sophomore has taken a liking to it when he’s on the baseball field.

“You’ll have to ask J-Lo where (the nickname) came from,” he said. “I kinda like it. It gives me some character, and it helps me fit in.”

Senior Jared “J-Lo” Low-ther, a captain on the Moffat County baseball team, gave the sophomore his nickname last year after hearing it used by a comedian.

The comedian said, “Ohhhh Jebediah,” and Lowther stored it in his memory bank.

“I said it the next game, and me and (junior Caleb) Owens started using it for (Richards),” Lowther said. “We used to call him Romeo, but it didn’t fit as well as Jebediah and then it went from Jebediah to ‘Jebe.'”

Coach Scott Parker has taken to calling Richards “Jebe” as well.

“On the outside, Jebe might have an ‘aw shucks’ attitude,” coach Scott Parker said about why the nickname fits Richards. “But he has a competitive fire on the inside,”

Because Hayden has no baseball team, Richards is allowed to play for Moffat County. He and freshman Jordan Williams ride to practice together.

During his freshman year, Richards led the Western Slope League in home runs and established himself as one of the team’s best pitchers.

His ability was a surprise to some of the older Craig players who hadn’t seen him in Little League.

“When he first came to practice, I didn’t think he looked like a good player,” Lowther said. “He was tall and skinny and quiet. But that’s deceiving once he steps to the plate or the mound.”

When his sophomore season started, Richards was focused on producing even more. Looking back, he may have put too much pressure on himself.

” Just getting back into things I was trying too hard,” he said. “I felt like I had to be the one to make everything happen.”

During a three-game period — one game against Montezuma-Cortez and two against Delta –Richards went 1-for-9 and gave up seven earned runs in 3.1 innings.

After that, Parker sat down with Richards for a talk.

“(Parker) told me to relax more and to focus on the fundamentals,” Richards said. “It helped me realize that I don’t need to think as much out there.”

During the past six games since the doubleheader against Delta, Richards is batting .438 (7-for-16) with three home runs, and seven runs scored. He is tied for fourth in Class 4A with five home runs.

“Teams don’t even want to throw to him now since the Palisade series,” Parker said.

During the second game again-st Palisade, Richards crushed two balls, one that went over the right-field fence and another that fell just short of the 414-foot deep center-field fence. The center-field fence in Craig is 363-feet deep. He also hit back-to-back home runs in game two against Rifle this weekend.

“I’m glad I picked baseball,” Richards said, thinking about how he almost went out for track. “This is fun.”