Season opener on May 27 at Tommy V Field
by Than Acuff
Last year, the Crested Butte Blue Jackets baseball team suffered through a rough season. Not only is their pre-season significantly impacted by the weather but also, last year they were, by far, the smallest and youngest team in the league.
Not only that, but numbers were down, leaving the Blue Jackets with just 10 players total and oftentimes resulting in having just eight players available for games.
“We were the youngest team out there and definitely outmanned,” says coach Michael Weil. “It was a huge learning curve and a lot of our kids were intimidated. But, by the end of the year we were definitely in a few games and fighting.”
This season, things should turn out much better for the Blue Jackets. While they are still battling a short preseason and limited time outside, the coaching staff was revamped, as Tom Consentino and Kirk Peterson join Weil at the helm. The coaches have worked together off and on since the T-ball days of youth baseball and Weil believes they sync very well on how and what to coach.
Furthermore, all of the players are another year older and stronger, and numbers are way up, with 15 players signed up and practicing, with another two or three expected to join the team in June.
“Our kids grew a bunch and we are much bigger and much stronger. I’m really excited for the season,” says Weil.
They opened pre-season workouts a month ago and have been covering the bases, so to speak, as they prepare for the upcoming season.
“We’re focusing a little more on hitting than we did last year, getting some hitting in at every practice,” explains Weil. “We need to learn to hit with some power, get a little pop in their bats.”
But you can’t win without defense, and the coaches have been working hard to tighten things up defensively.
“Obviously there’s always the focus on defense,” says Weil. “We’re doing a lot of situational play so we’re not giving up extra bases and extra outs.”
As for pitching, the rotation was hit with a setback as two of their best options will be unable to pitch this season. Still, Weil believes he has at least five other kids to work with this season.
“They can all pitch, it’s just about getting them up to speed,” says Weil. “Pitching is always interesting. It’s about what’s going on inside between the ears. We’re going to start out slow but we should be fine later in the season.”
The Blue Jackets will continue workouts though May and open the season at home when they host Gunnison at Tommy V Field on Wednesday, May 27.
“We’re putting the fun back in baseball,” says Weil. “I’m really excited and the kids are really excited. I think we’re going to compete this year. The main problem is our season is so short. We have a lot of work and the kids have to be focused.”