Demons, Bears open baseball slate Saturday
It’s supposed to be cold, windy and possibly snow on Saturday.
Obviously, it must be the first day of prep baseball for area Class 4A Western Slope teams.
Western Slope League defending champion Rifle opens its season today when it hosts Elizabeth with a doubleheader starting at 11 a.m.
Glenwood’s doubleheader opener against Steamboat Springs begins at the same time at the Glenwood Middle School field.
For Rifle, this season is a chance to extend its title streak. The Bears have earned either a district or league crown in each of the last six seasons under head coach Troy Phillips.
While the Bears lost five players to graduation ” including all-Colorado pitcher Jason Enewold ” and another player to transfer, Rifle tends to reload rather than rebuild.
All-conference shortstop Adam Krick returns to lead the Bears this season and also will likely see plenty of time on the mound. Krick posted a .310 batting average last season and a .507 on-base percentage.
Three Rifle players return after earning all-conference honorable mention accolades last season. Senior outfielder Kip Jessup hit .340 and Shane Fazzi can play all over the field. Sophomore Eli Snead tallied a .324 average as a freshman and should be improved this season.
The Demons take the field with a new coach in Norm Bolitho and a number of new faces this season.
Ryan Millyard (senior), Mike Hoban (senior) and John Faris (junior) are the only players who saw significant time in last year’s starting lineup.
“For the most part, we’re just really young,” Bolitho said. “Those guys that have been here will definitely be looked upon to help lead the team.
“We’re excited to get this started,” he added. “We have a good mix of young kids and a couple good senior leaders to help us.”
Bolitho is holding off on selecting a staff ace, but Faris, junior Paul Huttenhower, and freshmen Beau Chicione and Chance Stevens will likely be in the pitching rotation.
Offensively, Bolitho said there is some potential for the long ball, but the Demons “are going to try to manufacture runs, get guys moving and do whatever it takes to score.”
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