PCHS baseball looks to rebuild
When the Park City High School baseball team takes the field this season, there will be new faces at almost every position. Only one regular contributor returns to the team after the departure of several key seniors.
Even in the dugout, changes will be evident, as a new coach takes over the reins of the program. Eric Morgan will coach the Miners this season and will try to get the most out of a group of players with little varsity experience.
With practice officially underway, Morgan said he’s seen several positives from the Miners.
"We don’t have a lot of seniors, but I feel like this is a close group and they’re all working hard," he said. "They all want to win and they all want to compete and have a good season."
The one returning contributor from last year’s team is junior Ryan Brady, who proved he was one of the state’s best pitchers during his sophomore campaign. Morgan said the Miners will count on him to take another step forward this year.
"He’s going to be a great guy to have," Morgan said. "He’s definitely the ace of our pitching staff. I think he’s probably one of the best pitchers in the state. We’re going to rely on him a lot throughout the year and hopefully he can continue to dominate."
Behind Brady, the Miners need Jake Slusher to have a solid senior season because, after him, there’s not much depth in the rotation.
"Hopefully Jake Slusher can step up and have a big year," Morgan said. "It’s his senior year and we’re hoping that he can take that role, that senior leadership. Other than [Brady and Slusher], we’re going to have a lot of sophomores — maybe even a couple freshmen — that hopefully can come in and give us some innings and give us some strikes."
At the plate, the Miners will be without last year’s leaders Chandler Anderson, Chandler Barkdull, Scott Stokes and Ian Moritz, among others. Morgan said the few seniors the team has will need to try to make up for some of that lost offensive production.
"There isn’t a lot of experience on this team at the varsity level," he said. "We’re going to have to have the four seniors — Drew Castellanos, Jake Slusher, Walker Hess and JC Pollard — really step into that role. We’re not going to be a power team. We’re going to have to make contact and do the little things. It’s going to have to be a team effort 1-9 putting the ball in play, getting guys over and getting in scoring position."
Defensively, Park City will rely on versatility in the infield. Morgan said positions will change depending on who’s pitching.
"We’re going to have a lot of guys moving around," he said. "All of our top pitchers are also infielders. That’s going to make it hard. When Brady’s pitching, [Zack] Luna’s going to have to play short. When Jake’s pitching, [Luna]’s going to have to play second. Sam Strader is going to have to play all three positions."
In the outfield, things are a little more set, with Sam Starley taking over in center field.
"He’s got great speed and great fundamentals," Morgan said. "He knows the game. He’s going to cover a lot of ground out there."
Despite having an inexperienced team, Morgan is confident the Miners will be in a good position to compete for a Region 10 title when region play begins on March 22.
"[Region 10] is probably a little down compared to what our region’s been in the past," he said. "I don’t think there’s a dominant team in the region, so there’s a good chance for us to compete — it’s pretty wide open."
To have the best season possible, though, Morgan said the Miners will need to copy last year’s squad and rely on seniors to lead the way.
"Those guys have worked really hard," he said. "They want to win and they want to have a great senior season. They haven’t played much in the past, so I think those guys are the X factors. They’ll set the tone for the rest of the team."
Park City’s season is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, March 8. The Miners will travel to Juan Diego for a 3 p.m. game.
Park City High School Baseball Schedule
March 8 — at Juan Diego — 3 p.m.
March 10 — vs. Hurricane (Pine View/Hurricane Classic) — 8:30 p.m.
March 11 — vs. Hunter (Pine View/Hurricane Classic) — 1 p.m.
March 11 — vs. North Sevier (Pine View/Hurricane Classic) — 3:30 p.m.
March 12 — vs. TBA (Pine View/Hurricane Classic) — TBA
March 15 — at Uintah — 6 p.m.
March 16 — at Murray — 3:30 p.m.
March 22 — at Grantsville — 3:30 p.m.
March 25 — vs. Grantsville — 3:30 p.m.
March 29 — vs. Stansbury — 3:30 p.m.
April 1 — at Stansbury — 3:30 p.m.
April 6 — vs. Logan — 3:30 p.m.
April 7 — vs. Granger — 3:30 p.m.
April 12 — vs. Tooele — 3:30 p.m.
April 14 — at Tooele — 3:30 p.m.
April 19 — at Union — 3:30 p.m.
April 22 — vs. Union — 3:30 p.m.
April 26 — at Grantsville — 3:30 p.m.
April 28 — vs. Stansbury — 3:30 p.m.
May 3 — vs. Tooele — 3:30 p.m.
May 5 — at Union — 3:30 p.m.
May 10 — vs. Payson — 3:30 p.m.
May 14 — 3A Playoffs begin — TBA
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After starting the year 0-3, the Miners are rolling. They’ve won their last three games, including Friday’s blowout over a region foe.