Sailors baseball carries talent, perseverance, optimism into 2020 season |

Sailors baseball carries talent, perseverance, optimism into 2020 season

The Steamboat Springs High School baseball team warms up on Gardner Field, which has been plowed to allow spring sports to begin practicing on turf.
Shelby Reardon

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs High School baseball team is ready to win — not just eke by with a winning record, but really win and go to the playoffs. With five skilled seniors and plenty of experienced juniors, the Sailors truly believe they can do just that.

“We’re the only ones who can mess it up at this point,” said senior Ethen Johnson. “We have all the talent. We have great bats. We have great gloves. We have great arms through the lineup. We’re the only ones who can get in our heads, and that’s the only way we’re gonna mess it up.”

The team is now led by George Ibarra, who has been an assistant coach for former head coach Rusty McRight. Ibarra, aided by Jarett Duty, brought in four additional assistant coaches who each focus on one part of the game, trying to give his players every tool possible to succeed.

“Our motto is basically you have to weather the storm to be a Sailor,” Ibarra said. “We’re basically saying, you went through the storm and got beat all the time. As they got older, they started winning tournaments, and now, this is their year to make it happen.”

Johnson, senior Maxim Fullerton, and juniors Austin Ibarra and Alan Duty rack up more than 100 games a year with travel teams, and George said their experience and leadership will be a huge part in the team’s success.

When they first started playing baseball, the sport wasn’t big in Steamboat. It still isn’t the most popular activity, but the whole team has stuck with the sport and started to compete with some larger programs in the state. 

“I stuck with it because I love the sport,” Duty said. “I just loved being out there. Even though it was mediocre baseball, it was still what I loved to do. I just kept with it until stuff worked out.”

Last year, the team was 6-10, two games off of a 0.500 record. Coach Ibarra said it should have been better, though, as some close games could have gone in the Sailors’ favor if they hadn’t lost focus.

Steamboat Springs High School sophomore Austin Ibarra delivers a pitch during the second game against Summit High School on Tuesday, May 14, at Simillion Field.
Leah Vann

“Errors are what’s killing us. We make too many silly errors,” coach Ibarra said. “Not knowing where I’m going if the ball gets hit to me. That’s something big.”

To contrast that, coach Ibarra said he’s most confident with the three guys he’s putting in the outfield in junior Colter Gansmann in left, Austin in center and Fullerton in right.

The Sailors also have a strong catcher behind the plate in senior Tanner Ripley, who is familiar with all the team’s prospective top pitchers. According to George Ibarra, the starting rotation will feature Duty, Austin and Gansmann.

Offensively, Johnson said there isn’t a gap in the lineup and everyone is capable of hitting consistently. 

Steamboat will conclude the season with a pair of home doubleheaders against Battle Mountain and Summit on May 9 and 15.

“I see some good things. I see us making the playoffs. I really do,” said George. “There’s no excuse for not making the playoffs.”

Steamboat Springs baseball schedule:

  • Mar. 13: Steamboat Springs at Rangely, 3 p.m.
  • Mar. 16: Steamboat Springs at Aspen, 3 p.m.
  • Mar. 18: Steamboat Springs at Coal Ridge, 3 p.m.
  • Mar. 28: Steamboat Springs at Eagle Valley, 3 p.m
  • Apr. 1: Steamboat Springs at Glenwood Springs, 3 p.m.
  • Apr. 4: Steamboat Springs at Palisade, 11 a.m.
  • Apr. 7: Steamboat Springs at Moffat County, 7 p.m.
  • Apr. 11: Steamboat Springs at Rifle, 11 a.m.
  • Apr. 28: Steamboat Springs at Middle Park, 4 p.m.
  • May 1: Steamboat Springs at Glenwood Tournament
  • May 6: Steamboat Springs at Basalt, 3 p.m.
  • May 9: Battle Mountain at Steamboat Springs, 11 a.m.
  • May 15: Summit at Steamboat Springs, 3 p.m.

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.

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