Miners respond to tough start
March 25, 2011
Under an entirely new coaching staff, establishing a brand-new style of play and enduring an 0-4 start to the season, the Park City baseball team could have easily let things snowball.
After losing their first three games of the season by a combined four runs, the Miners traveled to New Mexico for the Tri-State Tournament last weekend looking to right the ship.
But the team found itself on the wrong end of a luckless start with a 16-1 loss to defending 5A New Mexico champions Piedra Vista High School.
"We just kind of ran into a buzzsaw," said head coach Lou Green. "They put one on us pretty good. We had a little heart-to-heart with the guys after that game. They responded well."
Green’s bunch bounced back to defeat 5A Clovis High School 6-4 Friday before besting 4A Los Alamos High School 12-9 Saturday.
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Seniors Robert Cashel (home run) and Skyler Barkdull (double) helped lead the Miners in the come-from-behind win over Clovis.
Saturday’s game against Los Alamos was much of the same as senior pitcher Connor Howard earned the win and helped lead Park City offensively with a triple as the Miners rallied from a 6-3 deficit to secure the 12-9 win.
That heart-to-heart Green spoke of was integral to the team’s turnaround and, once his group of senior leaders took the field, things were different for the remainder of the tournament.
"We came back and brought everyone together and we all said we can lay down and keep losing like this, or we can keep fighting," Cashel said.
Barkdull said he believes the four straight losses may turn out to be a positive considering the team came into the season with high expectations.
"I think the four losses at the beginning of the season was pretty good for us," he said. "It’s good to get it out then, and not in the middle of the season or toward the end."
Barkdull, who plays nine different positions for the Miners, is hitting .400 this season and leads the team in RBI and doubles. Howard currently leads the team with a .414 average. The Miners have already swiped 20 bases in six games thus far this season. Cashel is racking up steals at a rapid rate, according to Green.
Green said his three senior leaders are setting a precedent for the rest of the team and knows it will come down to their ability on and off the diamond to help Park City through the tough spots of the season.
"Those three guys are our leaders," he said. "We’re learning a lot of lessons early, and it’s good we’re learning a lot of lessons early. There’s so many things I’ve learned in my first four or five or six games."
Cashel says this year’s squad has talent and sees this new season as a chance for the program to take a next step but realizes there are growing pains.
"We really want to be successful this year," he said. "It just shows a lot of character about our team and how we never give up, just keep fighting. To come out and lose four straight games like we did, it was tough. But we have a new coach and it’s different baseball from last year. (Green’s) kept us motivated."
This weekend has taken Park City (2-4) to St. George to participate in the Little Caesar’s Classic Tournament. The Miners will face stiff competition in 4A Olympus, 3A rival Judge Memorial and one of Utah’s best teams in 4A Snow Canyon, which is 8-1.
Park City’s new head coach isn’t shy about his expectations, nor is he willing to settle for anything less than victory.
"We want to win every baseball game, and if something happens and we lose, we’ll make adjustments from there and we’ll win every one from there on out," he said. "I expect to win 20 straight to finish the season and that’s just my mentality as a coach; and if I don’t expect to win the game, then they’re not going to expect to win the game."
Cashel, who said the team’s focus is at an entirely different level this year with the new coaching staff, agrees with his head coach.
"We want to show people what Park City baseball is about this year," he said. "We’re not afraid of anyone. We have talent. We definitely have the talent."