Demons, Bears set to hit the diamond |

Demons, Bears set to hit the diamond

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Pitching will be the key to Glenwood’s success

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Coach Eric Nieslanik knows the success of his Glenwood Springs baseball team rests on its pitching.

With a seasoned trio returning to lead the staff, that might just prove to be an area of strength for the Demons.

Senior Patrick Hailey, sophomore Luke Jacob and junior Matt Snyder will likely lead the staff, Nieslanik said.

“The pitching piece is really the factor early on,” said the fourth-year head coach. “It’s the same piece we’ve had, just a little bit older. … Pat certainly brings the experience and Luke has matured a lot just as a sophomore. Matt Snyder is a piece of that rotation. Those three will probably carry us into the season.”

Mix in a diverse group of young and veteran talent and the Demons will look to improve on a 6-13 showing in 2008.

Sophomore Mario Gonzalez, who flashed a powerful bat while seeing major playing time as a freshman, is back at third base. Also expected to contribute are sophomore middle infielder Carlos Hernandez, senior catcher Keenan Hartert, senior middle infielder Matt Seaver, junior catcher Garrett Hatch and junior outfielders Taylor Parsons and Austin Page.

Jacob, Snyder and Hailey will also see time elsewhere on the diamond when not on the mound.

“We have quite the diverse group,” Nieslanik said. “We’re still going to be relatively young.”

Position battles will likely flavor the season’s early going, starting with Friday’s season-opening action at the Hotchkiss Tournament, where the Demons will get in three games over two days.

Late February and early March in Colorado leaves little time for those battles to play out in preseason practice.

“This time of year, we’re just trying to battle through getting the fields dry and getting them into game-like situations,” Nieslanik said. “The weekend tournament will definitely be kind of a way to feel them out, test them out. Hopefully it’ll all be settled by our first league game.”

RIFLE, Colorado ” Wins and losses won’t be the be-all, end-all for Rifle’s baseball team in 2009.

With the program’s lowest numbers head coach Troy Phillips has ever had, and many of the 20 athletes program-wide relatively new to the game, fighting to improve on a daily basis will be the point of emphasis.

“I’d say we’re definitely working on trying to get the guys to understand how to play the game,” he said. “We set little goals to get better every day and, hopefully, not worry too much about wins and losses during the course of the season.”

The Bears do have some returning talent. Dwight Cerise (pitcher/shortstop), Raleigh Roberts (second base), Tanner Wilcox (catcher) and Ryan Rebhan (outfielder) are the team’s four seniors.

Cerise and junior Chris Hesselberg will likely serve as Rifle’s main pitchers.

The Bears also expect contributions from the likes of juniors Michael Cash, Ricardo Quezada, Matt Barrett, Austin Carlson and sophomores Cody Chick and Luke Buss.

With low numbers and a not a lot of seasoning, Phillips and the Bears are keeping their expectations modest. But that doesn’t mean they won’t leave it all out on the field.

“As far as our team’s going, I feel like we have a good group as far as work ethic so far,” Phillips said. “One of our goals is to beat a few teams better than us during the course of the year.”

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