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Difficult day at the diamond

Adia Waldburger, of the Record staff
Park City varsity pitcher Megan Colligan winds up for the pitch at the region opener against Wasatch with a cast on her throwing hand.
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The Park City Miners softball and baseball teams knew that things could be rough when they headed to Heber for their Region 10 openers on Tuesday afternoon.

Wasatch boasts two of the top teams on the diamond, and Park City was ready for a challenge.

The girls were working with the added problem of a severely short roster with half of the starters out of town for spring break. For Miners softball coach Gerry McMillan, the vacation week meant he was left with just four varsity players. The rest were a hodgepodge of junior varsity and freshmen team players. Although the girls tried their best, the Wasps beat the girls with an overwhelming 19-0 loss.

"It’s almost a forgone conclusion that we will get waxed over spring break," said McMillan.

Perhaps the biggest consequence of the missing starters was at the mound. Pitcher Megan Colligan, who fractured the thumb on her pitching hand in a practice, was throwing with a cast on.

"She decided she wanted to try pitching," McMillan said. "She really did a good job yesterday."

Besides Wasatch, Union, Judge and Uintah also have top teams, so McMillan knows that there are no easy games ahead of them, but he hopes to be full strength for most of them.

After losing a number of starters to injury and other sports at the beginning of the season, McMillan knew that the team would struggle, but a refocusing of goals on just playing well has lightened the mental load for the girls.

"The kids are getting better. They continue to improve," McMillan said.

Tuesday’s game did offer the younger players a taste of what top-level prep competition looks like and McMillan hopes it will inspire them to work even harder.

"They got to see what the real deal is," McMillan said.

He was also careful to tell the girls after the game how much he appreciated their effort and attendance, even though the task proved to be too daunting.

"We threw them into a rough varsity game. We had no expectations with that," McMillan said. "The kids worked hard and that’s what I’m interested in."

Unfortunately, at different points in the game and as the Miners prepared to leave, they were met by some unsportsmanlike words from the Wasatch club, but McMillan said that the Park City girls chose not to respond.

"The Park City kids are a class act," McMillan said.

Back in practice, McMillan and the rest of the Park City staff have been focusing heavily on the fundamentals, hoping a more solid base will help the girls to succeed

"We’re just going to keep plugging away," McMillan said. "What we’re after more is fundamentals and the ability to roll with the punches.

A couple of miles away, the baseball team was in their own battle. The young team was up against a team stocked with seniors, so they knew they had to play smart.

"Wasatch is the favorite coming in," Schwab said.

Unfortunately, the Miners struggled at the plate, and lost 9-1.

According to Park City head coach Buster Schwab, pitcher Brett Sanchez had a respectable day and the defense played well, but for some reason, his team just couldn’t get any hits.

"The sad thing is, we had been swinging the bat better than we had in years prior to this game," Schwab said.

The Park City coaching staff is not really sure why the team struggled so much. Wasatch had a strong left-handed pitcher but so did two of the teams the Miners played last week, and the Tuesday was the first time the Miners had any trouble.

"Strong pitching isn’t an excuse," Schwab said. "We just didn’t come ready to play baseball and you can’t do that when it’s a rival school."

The Miners recorded a total of 12 strikeouts on the day, with only 2 hits. Schwab said the Miners need their senior leaders to step up in these big games.

"We just need to get more output from our seniors," Schwab said.

Park City’s other big rival, Judge also has a senior-laden team, so Schwab says the Miners need to win the big games. In order to make it to the playoffs, Park City will have to win at least half of their games.

Schwab think that Tuesday’s "glitch" is most likely a confidence problem. They have not beaten the Wasps in two years, and Schwab says that may have messed with their heads.

"We’re going to be there," Schwab said. "Our struggles have been on the mental side."

In junior varsity action, the Miners won 9-6 and have only lost one game on the season. The freshmen team continued their undefeated streak by burying Wasatch 16-7.

"As soon as Wasatch and Judge’s seniors graduate, it will be a nice year," Schwab said. "Next year should be our year."

Both Park City squads are scheduled to play Uintah on Friday, and will travel to take on the Union Cougars on Monday, April 10 at 3 p.m.


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