Pugh, Clark enjoy Storm-y Steamboat summer
Steamboat Springs — Monday it was a trip to Steamboat Lake complete with a stop at the Clark Store for ice cream. Other days it’s been a hike along Fish Creek or a drive to check out other local landmarks.
Jesse Pugh, a 2015 graduate from Steamboat Springs High School, said he’s embraced his role as local concierge for the Steamboat Springs Storm summer baseball team. He splits time at third base for the squad, one of two local players on the team.
The Storm wraps up its season this week with a postseason tournament, and Pugh said, while he’s spent plenty of time helping accommodate his short-term teammates to Steamboat Springs, he’s gotten plenty back, as well.
“It’s gone really well,” he said. “It’s been great getting more reps and live at-bats. It’s helped out a lot.”
Billy Clark, also a 2015 Steamboat graduate, is on the Steamboat Storm after his freshman season playing outfield at Garden City Community College in Kansas.
Pugh just finished his freshman season playing for Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska, not far from Lincoln, Nebraska.
They are joined on the Storm by 20 other young college baseball players from around the country. Minnesota and Mississippi both provided several players each, but all told, the players hail from colleges in 14 different states.
The idea is to use some of those live at-bats and that playing time to improve, and Pugh said he’s been able to make progress.
“I wanted to work on hitting to all parts of the field instead of always pulling the ball,” he said. “It’s come in flashes this summer, here and there, but I’m still working.”
He’s hoping that work can help him take the next step at Concordia. His college team enjoyed one of the best seasons in program history this spring, going 28-27 and setting single-season records for wins, runs scored, home runs, hits and pitcher strike-outs.
He spent much of the college season playing on the junior varsity squad and is eager to try to make a difference at the varsity level.
The Storm, too, have enjoyed a strong season. Playing mostly doubleheaders, the team split nearly every single one, until it swept Eagle Valley last week. That, plus a five-run, late-inning rally Saturday against the Summit Black Diamonds, slid the team into second place in the Mountain West Summer College baseball league, thus earning a bye for Monday’s tournament games.
The team will start its play in the double-elimination, post-season tournament Tuesday against the winner of Monday’s Grand Junction versus Eagle Valley game.
“It always means something to win,” Pugh said. “It’d feel great to be at the top at the end of the year and to win the championship.”
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Construction on Sleeping Giant School has moved mostly inside as the roughly 100-person crew continues the push to complete the building by the end of summer.