3 spring sports teams finally get a week outside
Craig — At Wednesday’s Moffat County High School baseball practice, throws were dropping short of their target.
On the golf course, the girls team still hadn’t played an entire hole on their own turf. Across town, the soccer team was shooting on goals that didn’t have nets.
With more than half of their seasons over, the three Bulldog teams are just getting used to being outside.
“It’s the middle of the season, but I feel like we’re at the beginning of practice,” baseball coach Tim Hafey said. “There’s no focus at practice, and with our talent level, we needed to be out here to develop and get a focus.”
Leading up to this week, the only time the teams saw grass was in competition, mostly games farther south.
“It’s a little intimidating to know you are lining up against teams who haven’t been kicking the ball around in a gym,” junior Anastasia Todd said.
The soccer team’s learning curve on the field is evident.
Two weeks ago, they lost games, 7-0, to Steamboat Springs and Montrose. They were outscored 11-0 in the first half of those games.
“It has taken us a half just to adjust to dribbling on grass,” Todd said.
Working around the weather isn’t anything new for spring sports in Northwest Colorado.
In the past, teams have been able to rely on experience from previous seasons to get them by when snow covered the practice fields. The difference this year is that a majority of these three teams are all young and inexperienced.
“We have girls who haven’t even seen a sand trap before their first tournament,” junior Heather Nicholson said. “If the weather is good (today) it will be the first time they’ve played on our course because we’ve been working on our short game the last two days.”
Weather permitting, the soccer team will host its first home game today at Woodbury Park.
“It will be nice to have some fans,” soccer coach Nicole Dolence said.
Despite the circumstantial limitations, there have been some bright spots for the teams.
The girls golf team has ridden the shoulders of Nicholson to several top-five finishes as a team.
“I still have a good feel from the summer,” she said. “So that has kept me sharp.”
The baseball team picked up a win against Glenwood Springs last week.
They’ll host a doubleheader against Eagle Valley on Saturday
“Eagle Valley lost a lot of seniors like us,” Hafey said. “They are probably in a similar situation.”
With a sweep of the Devils, the Bulldogs would be in position to finish the season strong.
The soccer team has yet to win, but a chance to be on grass everyday and the upcoming schedule has the girls thinking positive.
“We have some teams that we think we’ll compete well with coming up,” Dolence said.
Todd’s hope is that they won’t have to hop on a bus for a home game again.
“Our previous supposed home game we had to drive to Rifle,” she said. “It was a bummer.”
Getting outside is also good for the morale of a team, Dolence said.
“The sun is always good,” she said. “It’s just gives them more energy.”
Senior baseball player Erik Leonard summed up the need to get outside in four words.
“I like getting dirty,” he said.
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