Titans notch first varsity win on the baseball diamond | PostIndependent.com

Titans notch first varsity win on the baseball diamond

Jeff Caspersen
Post independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

PEACH VALLEY, Colorado ” Coal Ridge’s baseball players have suffered more than their fair share of mercy rule defeats.

That made the Titans’ 10-0 win over Rangely last Thursday, a game that featured a five-inning no-hitter by pitcher Darren Matthews, all the sweeter. Not only because it was the program’s first varsity triumph but because they did it in table-turning fashion.

“The way we did it, with a shutout and Darren throwing a no-hitter, our first varsity win, it was a good way” said first-year Coal Ridge head coach Luke LaBaw, who was an assistant with the team last year. “You know, being on the other end of the mercy rule pretty much the entire season last year, we’re finally on even keel with everyone else.”

“It felt good not to be 10-run ruled,” Matthews joked.

It’s an understatement that the three-year-old Titan program struggled mightily in the past. As a new school, Coal Ridge High School is only just now seeing its first senior class pass through its doors.

And the leadership those upperclassmen are bringing to the diamond is paying off in a big way.

“We have good seniors, good leadership,” LaBaw said. “The kids worked hard in the offseason and I think you’ll start seeing some of those rewards from all their hard work. Hopefully, they’ll slip into the season and keep that momentum going.”

Playing varsity ball together beginning at such a young age only solidifies the bond between the upperclassmen, who have more or less grown into program fixtures.

“The reason we’re so competitive is that we’ve been together now for three years,” junior Josh Alsop said. “We’ve been together forever and we know how each other plays.”

Whatever the driving forces, Coal Ridge baseball has undergone a major attitude shift, and the players say it all starts at the top.

“It’s the coach, the coaching staff,” senior Brett Burrows said. “We’ve got a lot more kids coming out this year.”

Besides LaBaw, Burrows is referring to pitching coach Mark Bintliff, infield/junior varsity coach Steve Ryan and C team coach Zac Meseky.

“We have a great group of coaches,” LaBaw said. “I think each of these guys brings a lot, their expertise helps us out a lot. We’re all on the same page. The kids believe in what we’re doing and everybody is working toward the same thing. There’s good communication.”

The program’s numbers are evidence of the staff’s popularity. After last year starting the year with 14 kids ” program-wide ” Coal Ridge has 44 players out this year. That’s enough to comfortably field a C, JV and varsity team.

“We’re a whole different team than we were last year,” Burrows said. “We’re competitive. We’ve got a lot of guys out and we’ll have many more [wins] coming along, for sure. It’s nice to get that first one taken care of but we’ll get a lot more of them this year too.”

More players is translating into success and stability, something the Titans have lacked until now. Building on the program’s first varsity win is the next step, one that’s being met with loads of enthusiasm.

“We want to get it started now, being the senior class,” Burrows said. “We want to start a tradition. Coach always talks about us building a tradition and leaving a legacy. We want to do that.

“The last few years, kids have been playing Coal Ridge and thinking it’s just going to be a guaranteed win. We don’t want them to feel like that anymore. We want them to know that we’re going to be a good program for this year and many years to come.”

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