Steamboat, Grand Valley square off on diamond

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— Grand Valley baseball coach Jeff Bradley walked out onto the high school field in Parachute Thursday morning with high hopes and soggy feet.

Welcome to baseball in northwest Colorado in the spring.

"As long as the good weather continues, we should be able to go by this afternoon," Bradley said.

"I think things are looking pretty good for this weekend but as always that's going to depend a lot on the weather."

His team, which finished with a 15-5 record last season and advanced to the state tournament, was scheduled to play Basalt at home Thursday and then face Steamboat Springs Saturday at 11 a.m., also in Parachute.

"This is the second year that we've played Steamboat in a preseason game," Bradley said. "It's always a good game."

Last year, the Cardinals came out on top with a 12-9 win. Bradley said he thinks his team won the first time they met in 1999, but only a couple of runs separated the two teams that time around as well.

This year the Sailors and new head coach Joss Vinson are hoping for a different outcome.

"I have no idea what Grand Valley has," Vinson said at practice earlier this week. "I would like to advance scout some of these teams, but there just isn't any time for these early season games."

The Sailors opened their season last Saturday in Olathe, losing in a 12-2 game against the Pirates. Steamboat also played Hotchkiss that same day, losing a tight 7-2 battle.

"It was a really weird game," senior Evan Wojtowicz said. "Normally we struggle the first few games with our fielding, but we can hit. In those games our fielding was awesome, but we couldn't hit the ball."

As a result, Vinson has spent most of this week focusing on his team's hitting.

"We just need to step up to the plate and pull the trigger," Joe Liefer said. "We didn't do that last weekend."

Grand Valley was scheduled to scrimmage Basalt last weekend. Unfortunately, the infield in Parachute was too wet to play on that day. Bradley said his players made the most of the day, however, by pulling the pitching mound into the outfield and hitting against a new pitcher.

"We couldn't work on our base running," Bradley said. "But we made the most out of what we had."

The Cardinals are a 2A team and will return a core of four players with varsity playing experience.

Leading the way is junior pitcher Clay McKinley. He was scheduled to start in Grand Valley's game against Basalt and will most likely be in the outfield against the Sailors Saturday.

Their other veteran players, all of whom are juniors, will start in the Cardinals' infield. Cole Christensen will be at second base, Brando Zarlengo will be at first base and Nick Broderick will start at shortstop for Grand Valley.

Vinson hasn't announced his staring lineup, but Liefer, Wojtowicz, Preston Stanfill, Ryan Marsden, Steve Mahosky, Scott Middleton and JoJo Bucci are expected to be in it.

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