Baseball benefits from adjusted schedule, hosts 4 games
In a typical season, the Steamboat Springs High School baseball team is lucky to host one game in the mediocre weather before the season ends in mid-May. This year, with the season starting now and ending in mid-June, the Sailors are hosting four home games. The team is making itself at home at Emerald Fields, a spot they rarely get to see in the typical spring season.
Practicing on a field in the first week will be a game changer for the boys.
“We actually get fielding practice,” senior Austin Ibarra said. “We’ve never actually been able to field ground balls or field fly balls ever before our first game. That’s going to be a huge advantage for us to actually be able to practice. Usually, we just hit until our first game.”
He said the team is obviously improved over past teams one week into the season.
“It’s way easier to visualize what we actually need to do,” senior Alan Duty added. “Being on a field is a gamechanger. It gives us similar ground to what other teams are doing.”
As every coach in the year has said, head coach George Ibarra said this season is all about gratitude and taking advantage of every opportunity to play.
“Our expectations this year is really the approach that all of our Steamboat athletics have taken: Let’s go have fun. We’re very fortunate to be on the field this year. Hopefully, we won’t cancel like last year. We’re looking at it that way.”
But at the same time, that doesn’t take away from the team’s competitive edge. George is encouraging the Sailors to make the most of their field practices and play hard and challenge themselves, so come game time, they are as prepared as possible.
“Our motto is, you should only know whether it’s practice or a game by what you wear,” George said. “That’s how we know. We’re giving it every minute we’re on the field. Practice or game, we’re giving it all we have. There’s no quitting, just play hard, enjoy it.”
The pair of seniors are fully embracing that attitude. After watching the large and optimistic 2020 senior class be deprived of their final season on the diamond, Duty and Austin are just happy to be out there playing. The two usually play up to 90 games a year through summer baseball, so they are the leaders in every way for the Sailors.
“I’m looking to have a great senior year and help some of these younger kids who want to play throughout high school develop into really good baseball players,” Duty said.
The junior class has some talent as well in Ben Bogan and Walker Ripley, but overall, the team is very young. Austin and Duty are leading and motivating the youthful squad and hoping to have more success this spring with more time on a field.
“I’m just trying to coach them when I see something,” Austin said. “And lead them through everything so they learn how to play the game the right way and be as good as they can be.”
Shelby Reardon is the assistant editor at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach her, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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