Sailors baseball hoping it gets its chance to host doubleheader
Steamboat Springs — By 4 p.m. Wednesday, ominous clouds spit out flakes of snow, and gusting winds whipped across Simillion Field at Howelsen Hill, just in time for the Steamboat Springs High School baseball team to begin practice warmups.
Somewhere between 1 and 3 inches of snow had been in the mid-week forecast for a few days. Skiers rejoice for the late-season blanket with the slopes set to close in four days.
The diamond Sailors couldn’t be praying more for the opposite of what was rolling in Wednesday night.
Since senior pitcher and shortstop Jesse Pugh’s sophomore season playing for the high school, the Sailors have hosted just a few games. Most teams in the league — like conference-leaders Palisade and Delta — get their winter snow, but they also get the luxury of a quick melt and dryer fields in season. That’s almost never the case with Steamboat.
With a low-snow, warmer winter in Routt County, Sailors coach Rusty McRight saw this Saturday’s scheduled contest with Glenwood Springs as an opportunity to play a rare home game, and an even-rarer early April home game.
But, again, that opportunity is in jeopardy with the spring storm’s sudden emergence.
“We’re going to try like heck to have it,” McRight said.
It mean’s even more to the players, like Pugh, who return to the team spring after spring, only to practice on the school’s football field or the team’s small indoor batting cage facility in west Steamboat.
“It means a lot,” Pugh said. “If we could squeeze in that doubleheader it would be great. Since my sophomore year, we’ve had, like, one or two games here.”
McRight, who has coached the Sailors for two years now, guessed it would be the earliest day on the calendar the team has hosted a game in program history.
And simply getting the team on Simillion for practice this week has been a huge stepping stone, the coach said. Steamboat got in two full practices under the Steamboat sun on Monday and Tuesday this week and was out again on Wednesday, despite the plummeting temperatures and snow flurries.
“You can see a lot of difference in how they’re feeling when they get to play on the field,” McRight said.
The Sailors barely got to host a game last year in early May versus Delta at the Emerald Park ballfields, even with some soggy spots in the outfield.
McRight professed his lofty long-term goals of one day having a turf field — like Gardner Field — for the Sailors and other baseball squads in town to use.
“Man, we could plow the snow off the flipping field and just play,” he said.
There won’t be any plowing this weekend, just praying. If the storm dumps less snow than forecasts predict, and if the sun creeps back out to dry the field again, Steamboat’s seniors Pugh, Charley Fitzhugh and Billy Clark should get their chance to show out at home for the last time in a Sailors uniform.
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Many people in the Yampa Valley make important decisions about everything from recreation to business plans based on the numbers for rain and snowfall, snow pack, cubic feet per second, wind speeds and temperatures.