The Park City High School baseball team is prepped for a big season in its jump to Class 5A
It’s the beginning of March and the sun is shining. With spring time right around the corner, that signifies the start of something beautiful; baseball season.
While Major League Baseball may still be in the middle of spring training, the Park City High School baseball team’s season is already underway — and coach David Feasler couldn’t be more excited.
“This is the deepest team I’ve had in my four years of being here. … Just a deep team all the way around where we have multiple options at each position and can overcome stuff that may come up,” Feasler said. “I’m so pumped for the beginning of the season and being competitive in games. We are starting at the bottom of the rankings but that doesn’t faze us at all. … We’ll be ready.”
The Miners opened up the season with a 13-7 loss to Orem, one of the better teams in 5A, on Tuesday afternoon. Mistakes were made as Park City committed six errors in the game, leading to six unearned runs crossing the plate. But Feasler wasn’t too concerned knowing that it’s only the first game of the season and there will be growing pains.
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“We’ve always hit in my four years here, so I know that’ll definitely be a strength for us again,” Feasler said. “We have a good infield defense, but it’s about actually getting out on the field and playing together and piecing things together. That takes time and I know that it’ll come around for us the more we are on the field.”
One thing that shouldn’t be sloppy, and was evidenced on Tuesday, is that Park City’s offense is ready to roll.
The Miners were led by senior Zack Blaszak and junior Ryan Hunt, who each went 2-for-4. Blaszak added two runs scored and an RBI while Hunt finished with a run scored and four RBI’s.
What has helped keep the Miners sharp at the plate is the addition of the new Park City Baseball Academy. A state-of-the-art facility that features a Rapsodo Hitting Unit, a virtual reality station and three-wheeled pitching machine has allowed Park City to not only stay sharp at the plate, but to sharpen their skills even more.
“The guys understand the weather and the situation, and what’s been impressive is that rather than being upset, they’ve embraced it,” Feasler said. “But the facility itself has been huge for us because it’s made the offseason shorter. The guys have been in here everyday. … I’m really grateful that the boys have put in the work and we’ve been able to use it.”
Feasler anticipates there to be growing pains in the beginning of the season defensively, mainly because there’s still snow on the baseball field. This has caused the Miners to practice defense primarily in the school gym, where the bounces are perfect — completely opposite of what’s to be expected on a field.
This is nothing new to Feasler and his boys, and every single season they start the year in the gym. They have to battle the elements so some of the games at the beginning of the year are a little sloppy.
Feasler says he has an interesting blend of players this year that if meshed correctly could provide some sparks as the season goes on. Apart from his returning stars, led by Blaszak and Ryan Jeffrey, Feasler says he’s mixing together two transfers and a talented freshman class to help complete the team dynamics.
Two freshman expected to play big roles are first baseman Will Bradley and pitcher Braxton Lyon. Bradley started at first on Tuesday while Lyon saw action out of the bullpen, throwing 2.0 innings and giving up just one earned with three strikeouts.
Philosophically speaking, Feasler believes that once the season really gets going, his team will be able to force the issue on offense.
It’s a requirement for everyone on the team to be able to bunt successfully, regardless of whether it’s the last guy on the bench or the cleanup hitter. The Miners are going to force opponents to play good solid defense to contain them, and whether it be a ball in the gap, a bunt down the third base line or running first to third, Park City plans to constantly be in motion.
“I want our identity to be opportunistic. … I want us to be able to jump on any opportunities when we get them and make the most of it,” Feasler said. “The best stat line is two doubles and a bunt hit, something I’ll take every time. I don’t like giving up outs so I’ll take a hit and get on base any way we can. It’s a fun offense to watch because we’ll hit and run with a lot of moving pieces.”
Another thing the Miners are excited about is the jump up to 5A, which could potentially put their streak of three consecutive seasons with a postseason victory in jeopardy. Park City is at the bottom of the Deseret News 5A rankings, something that doesn’t faze Feasler, but rather motivates him and the team.
“I’m thrilled about it because we are going to be overlooked a little bit, but I really think that’s a good thing,” Feasler said. “I think it’s good that no one knows about us because we are in Park City. … But we have some sneaky good college ball players on this squad. We’re always on the outside of the rankings and finish strong, and this year we are at the bottom again so it’s all good.”
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It’s going to be at least another month before Summit County’s high school athletes have any chance of getting onto the field again.