Moffat County baseball ready to step into successful season | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County baseball ready to step into successful season

Sizable program anticipating return to playoffs

The Bulldogs are ready to slug it out this season.

The Moffat County High SchoolMoffat County High School baseball schedule begins this week, and a slew of players ranging from heavy hitters and burners of the baselines to powerhouse pitchers and fantastic fielders are prepared to give it their all. baseball schedule begins this week, and a slew of players ranging from heavy hitters and burners of the baselines to powerhouse pitchers and fantastic fielders are prepared to give it their all.

Moffat County High School baseball schedule begins this week, and a slew of players ranging from heavy hitters and burners of the baselines to powerhouse pitchers and fantastic fielders are prepared to give it their all.

With more than 40 total athletes, coaches Justin Folley and Keith Gille aren't hurting for players to fill the varsity and JV lineups.

The baseball program is also brimming with seniors, including Brett Loyd, Spencer Turner, Cole Hoth, Trevor Kuhn, Ben Robinson, Dylan Kincade, Connor Knez and Hunter Roberts, as well as sophomores and juniors who got time on the field last year.

First-time players at the high school level are already angling for varsity slots and some fortunate freshmen just may get them if they continue to impress, Folley said. Also joining the program this season are Kaitlyn Shrode, Janae Warrior, Kacie Wheeler and Mackenzie Marshall.

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Any girl is welcome to join, Folley said, and the young women who have done so have easily adapted to the slight differences of baseball compared to softball.

"Defensively, there's not a whole lot of changes other than the ball comes a lot bit harder and faster, but they have more time to see it," Folley said. "It's all about getting experience, and the guys accepted them in like it was nothing."

Though MCHS does not offer the sport for girls, Marshall was one of several Bulldogs who suited up for Meeker's softball team in the fall, accumulating a .300 batting average on varsity.

"It's been a big adjustment, but this way I can get better in softball, stay active," said Marshall, an MCHS freshman.

While players have been getting themselves prepped for the physical elements of the game, coaches also want to have them mentally ready to take the field.

"I've seen a lot of improvement in our younger guys and some of our newbies," Folley said. "Being mentally focused is hard for high-schoolers, and we've had a lot of talks, one-on-ones. A lot more maturity this year."

The team has had to get creative with practice sessions, revving up the pitching machine for batting in the gym and utilizing the school's rarely used tennis courts to get some outdoor space for long throws. Such is the hazard of early spring, one which many teams in the region share as evidenced by Steamboat Springs using the Craig Middle School diamond to start their year, the two Yampa Valley team scheduled to meet Tuesday.

Also, Folley said a March 26 doubleheader with Gunnison intended to be in Craig might be moved to a Grand Junction field, allowing the squads to meet in the middle.

Gunnison and Olathe each dominated the 3A Western Slope League last year, their only losses in conference play against each other, while MCHS finished third at 9-5 WSL, 11-9 overall.

The Cowboys also made it all the way to the opening round state championships, and Folley expects them to be just as much of a threat now with other league teams offering just as much competition.

"Olathe's always tough, great coaching, they get on the field a little bit sooner, and the growth I saw in Aspen was huge last year," he said. "It'll be a good league this year, we'll see what happens."

Last season saw Moffat County make it to the playoffs after a three-year drought, the result being a first round elimination at the hands of Parker school Lutheran.

In their last year of Bulldog baseball, seniors Loyd and Turner intend to take it much further.

"We don't want to just go to playoffs, we want the state games," Loyd said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.