When the members of the Steamboat Springs High School boys baseball team step onto the field at the middle school in Craig today, they will not be thinking about postseason berths or playoff runs.
Instead, the players will be focused on hitting, pitching and fielding. They also will be focused on finding a way to win the game.
Coach Sean Hicks and his players are hoping a win will lead to a change of fortune that has plagued the team during a five-game losing streak that has nearly dropped the Sailors out of the race for a playoff spot.
With Delta, Palisade and Rifle in front of Steamboat in the standings, Hicks said the post season is out of his team's hands -- especially if they don't find a way to win in the squad's final three league games.
To make the playoffs, Steamboat will have to finish third in the league, something the coach says is a long-shot at best. But that is what they will need to do if they have any hope of playing after May 1 when the regular season comes to an end in a nonleague doubleheader against Resurrect Christian.
"We lost both games last weekend," Hicks said. "I don't know if we are mathematically eliminated, but we needed to win at least one of the games if we wanted a realistic chance at making the playoffs."
Steamboat fell to Palisade twice in the doubleheader Saturday. The Sailors' struggling offense came up with nine hits in the first game but fell 9-3. Palisade combined for 11 hits in the game including at least four bloop hits that really hurt the Sailors. Steamboat had three errors in the game.
"We didn't play poorly; we just didn't get any breaks," Hicks said. "They did."
The Sailors' run of bad luck continued in the second game as Palisade topped Steamboat, 8-1. Steamboat had just three hits in the game compared with Palisade's 11.
Hicks said Palisade's defense came up big in the game stealing more than one hit from Steamboat. He said it was frustrating for his players, who performed well enough to win but couldn't catch a big break in either of the games.
While the playoff picture is a bit muddled, it is clear that the Sailors will need a few breaks if they hope to play in the post season this year.
The only thing Hicks knows for certain is that the Sailors, 2-6 in league play (5-6 overall), will need to start winning soon.
"We are going to need some help from other teams just to get to the playoffs now," Hicks said. "It's out of our hands for the most part, but we still have to win our remaining games."
Steamboat has league games left against Moffat County, Rifle and Battle Mountain during the next week.
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