Spring is in the air in Pagosa Country, and Pirate baseball is officially underway.
Practices began Feb. 24, and coach Jim Fait is, “cautiously optimistic about the season.”
Last year, the team went 4-14 overall, with a 2-6 league record.
The team’s first tournament of the 2014 season takes place this weekend in La Junta, where the Pirates will face Las Animas, Rocky Ford and La Junta.
This year’s varsity squad looks to consist of four seniors, nine juniors, one sophomore and two freshmen, with eight of the team’s nine starters returning.
Seniors on this year’s squad are: Keenan “Bubba” Earley (outfield), Dean Scott (pitcher, catcher, outfield), Joey Campbell (pitcher, catcher, outfielder), and Carter Walsh (outfield).
The nine juniors include: Caden Henderson (pitcher, shortstop, catcher), Tyler Manzanares (third base, pitcher), Kennan Goebel (first base), Austin Harker (catcher, outfield), Connor Brown (outfield), Luke DeVooght (first base, second base, pitcher), Martin Rodriguez (outfield), and newcomers Josh Smith (outfield) and Kate Deluche (outfield).
The lone sophomore on the roster is Briar Erskine (outfield, pitcher, catcher).
The two freshman on the varsity squad are Jack Harker (second base) and Zach DeVooght (catcher).
“We’re a little more experienced this year than we have been,” Fait said, adding, “I would guess right now we’re two to three weeks ahead of where we were last year.”
The team’s first glimpse of action this season came in the form of a scrimmage in Cortez last weekend, and Fait indicated that the team has grown in several areas over the last year.
Fait noted that Austin Harker worked really hard over the summer, as did the team’s pitchers, with the velocity from the pitchers, “really increasing.”
Too, Fait said the outfielders have improved at tracking, running to, and catching outfield flies.
“We’ll see how we are this weekend with that La Junta Tournament,” Fait said.
The team’s current schedule is as follows:
• March 14 and 15 — La Junta Tournament.
Friday, 2:30 p.m. versus Las Animas.
Friday, 4:45 p.m. versus Rocky Ford.
Saturday, 11:45 a.m. versus La Junta.
• March 18 — 1 p.m. versus Dolores, in Dolores.
• March 29 — 11 a.m. versus Center, in Center.
• April 5 — Doubleheader at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. versus Monte Vista, in Monte Vista.
• April 8 — 4 p.m. versus Del Norte, in Del Norte.
• April 12 — Doubleheader at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. versus Alamosa, in Pagosa Springs.
• April 15 — 4 p.m. versus Sanford, in Sanford.
• April 17 — 3 p.m. versus Ignacio, in Ignacio.
• April 19 — Doubleheader at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. versus Centauri, in La Jara.
• April 26 — Doubleheader at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. versus Bayfield, in Pagosa Springs.
• April 29 — 4 p.m. versus Sanford, in Pagosa Springs.
• May 1 — 4 p.m. versus Sargent, in Sargent.