Weather Keeps the boys of spring inside |

Weather Keeps the boys of spring inside

Post Independent File Photo/Kara K. PearsonRifle's Eli Snead (17) slides into third base during a game in the 2005 season.

Pitching and weather have been the biggest concerns among area prep baseball coaches for a season that has yet to see a game.”We’re all in the same boat,” said first-year Glenwood Springs coach Eric Nieslanik regarding the lack of outdoor practice. “We just want to get outside and get some work in.”Glenwood and Roaring Fork hope to accomplish that Saturday in Grand Junction.Due to snow, the Demon Tournament, originally scheduled at Glenwood Springs Middle School, has been moved – weather permitting – to Canyon View Park.At least the pitchers have been able to throw.”Pitching’s been the only thing we can focus on because we haven’t been able to go outside,” Nieslanik said.And strong pitching has become a premium with league play right around the corner – a spot where Glenwood is in good shape.The Demons have their ace back in junior Beau Chicione, who led the team last year with 34 strikeouts in 30 innings pitched while fashioning a 3-2 win-loss record. Chicione also swings a potent bat.As a hitter, his .500 average was second-best on last season’s 9-9 club. In the power department, he swatted a team-high three home runs with 12 RBIs and led the team in runs scored with 27.On the mound, he faces a challenge for the No. 1 starting spot from Chance Stevens, Nieslanik said. Additional backup will come from seniors Boyd Milhorn, Zach McCullough and Shane Guenther. On off-days from pitching, Chicione will be one of the Demons’ starting infielders.Weather has put the rest of the starting lineup on hold. Returnees with varsity experience include Sam Houpt, Ivan Chacon, Matt Miller, Jeremy Christner, Dave King and Tim Cashel.

King, playing part-time, hit .346 in 2005. Cashel, Houpt and Miller all batted .250 or better last year. Bears looking to fill holesRifle is not as set as it’s been in past years, having been hit hard by graduation.Head coach Troy Phillips lost five starters, which included the Bears’ two main pitchers from 2005.The outlook, however, is not as bleak as it appears at first-glance with three starters returning from last year’s 16-4 team. Heading that list is two-time, all first-team, all-Western Slope League pick Eli Snead. Splitting his time between third base and the mound, Snead hit .468 with 21 RBI, scored 23 runs and had 12 stolen bases.He’s been given the reigns as Rifle’s No. 1 pitcher. In spot duty last year, Snead tossed a five-inning, no-hitter against Battle Mountain and posted a 2.33 earned-run average.Catcher Bryce Enewold also returns. The all-league backstop belted out 24 RBIs with three homers and six doubles while hitting .390. In the field, Enewold was equally sparkling. Last year he tied his own school record picking off opposing base-stealers, allowing only nine stolen bases with just one passed ball.Uriel Quezada, a WSL honorable mention selection, also possesses a big bat. In his first year as a varsity starter he finished with a .462 batting mark, had the team’s highest slugging average (.754) and knocked in 24 runs.Depending on the situation, Phillips plans to use Quezada at first, short or at third base along with some time on the mound.

A fourth returning starter, Josiah Youland, initially slotted as Rifle’s leadoff hitter, will be out for most of the season after suffering a broken wrist from a snowboarding accident earlier this month.New coach likes Rams’ chancesPitching depth appears not to be a problem at Roaring Fork.New Rams head coach Steve Kinney has three “strong pitchers” returning in Jake Bowman, Kyle Raaflaub and son, Jake Kinney, to turn to. “I’m confident with our pitching,” the coach said. “Our top three are looking good.”If any of the three falter, the coach can bring in senior Adam Joiner or Skyler McAllister for back-up.Bowman led all area pitchers with 38 strikeouts with a 5-4 record. Raaflaub tossed an area-high 50-plus innings with 30 Ks. As with most No. 1 pitchers, Bowman was also the Rams’ best hitter in 2005. Leading the area with 34 hits and a .596 batting average.Jake Kinney, who finished with a .472 average last year, adds more fire to Roaring Fork’s offense. Parker Nieslanik, another key returnee, hit .344. Nieslanik will catch as will Bowman. Kinney, McAllister and Joiner are starting infielders. Others expected to challenge for starting berths include twin brothers Trevor and Tyler Hunt and fellow basketball teammate Christian Tena.

Grand Valley shaping upThree players will be the core of the pitching staff for the 2006 Cardinals. Top hurlers include sophomores Tyler Jensen and Josh Selby along with Brian Vanderpool, a senior.And as the western-most high school, Grand Valley has had the luxury of some outdoor practices.”We’ve been outside for four or five practices,” said head coach Jeff Bradley. It gives the veteran coach, starting his 13th season as the helm, an idea of who is going to go where, but it still puts a crimp in Grand Valley’s pitching plans.”It makes it real tough, because we’re a small school. We might have to dump some of our non-league games, because we play double-headers in league,” Bradley explained.Titans anxious to startInches of snow on their playing field at Riverside School in New Castle has not damped the enthusiasm of the Coal Ridge Titans.Head coach Scott Schilt and his assistant Steve Ryan has 21 athletes out – most with years of baseball experience.”We have a nucleus of 11-12 players,” he said. “They’ve played together for 3 or 4 years, and they have good knowledge of the fundamentals.”What the freshmen/sophomore Titans lack is game experience at the high school level.Sophomore Brett Burroughs, a transfer from Grand Junction and the only Titan with high school experience, will be turned to for leadership. Other key players, who’ve come forward from early workouts include Alex Haynes, Darrin Mathews, brothers Daniel and Matthew Landeros and Josh Alsop.

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