Miners launch campaign for comeback
With spring comes new beginnings, and the Park City High School boys baseball team is hoping the new season will mean a fresh start for their team.
Now that last year’s frustrating season behind them, head coach Buster Schwab said his team has been working non-stop in the off-season to ensure individual and team success this spring.
The difference was already evident at baseball tryouts. Schwab and his staff welcomed the largest turnout for a tryout in seven years. Thirty-eight students showed up and 30 players were selected for the freshman/sophomore, junior varsity and varsity teams. Schwab said that the best surprise was the talent level of the freshmen class — a record 15 freshmen made the team.
With so many underclassmen, the Miners will be a very young and inexperienced squad. Schwab plans to start seven underclassman in varsity games and expects the beginning of the season to be a bit of a learning experience.
"We feel that first part of the season will be one where we will try and get the kinks out and find our stride," Schwab said.
One hurdle the Miners have already crossed is the quick recovery of star pitcher/first baseman Ricky Malott, who was hit in the eye by a ball in January. Malott spent most of February on bed rest and returned to the Field House during February Break to start workouts. He played in the season opener on March 7 against Tooele.
Before any games were played though, the Miners started the season with a party, where equipment and uniforms were distributed.
"There was not a person in the room that didn’t think it was Christmas when they went home with an armful of gear," Schwab said.
The evening also included team bonding activities, including a freshman "flour and foam" wrestling tournament and other games.
Once the uniforms were handed out and the shaving cream washed from the freshmen’s hair, the team started official practices at the Basin Recreation Field House. The players still has yet to play outside, but Schwab is hoping to give the team some outdoor practices on a regulation field in Salt Lake sometime this week.
The need to practice outside is important for the Miners as they start playing with teams that have been practicing on grass for weeks. In the opener on Tuesday against Tooele, the Miners struggled from the mound to find their mark, while the Buffaloes threw within the strike zone the entire game.
"The coaching staff was not surprised or terribly disappointed in the outcome on the field, but talked to the players about the need to stay up mentally throughout a game and be able to get through the little problems that we will certainly incur during the early part of our season," Schwab said.
Offensively, the Miners were only able to muster up five base hits and four runs against Tooele. They were led by senior Skyler Britton and junior Andrew Hoyt with two hits apiece. Freshman Atlee Schwab singled to bring home the first run of the season. Despite the loss, Schwab was able to play 16 different players and give them game experience.
The junior varsity team earned a 4-4 tie with Tooele in a four-inning game (cut short due to weather), led by the pitching of freshman Alex Thomas.
The Miners are still waiting to find out if they can host any home games on the Park City High School diamond. Besides a heavy snow pack, the construction on the high school has also severely damaged the field. According to Schwab, the team has been assured by the school district and the city that they are going to do whatever they can to get the field ready as soon as possible.
The Miners are back in action this week. If the weather cooperates, the varsity, junior varsity and freshmen/sophomore teams will play at Emery and Delta on Thursday, March 16 and Saturday, March 18. The freshmen/sophomore squad also plays at Ben Lomond on Wednesday, March 15.
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