Baseball season kicks off

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The season didn't begin with wins, but the Steamboat Springs baseball team played well for its first weekend of the year.

"We were rusty, but that was to be expected," Sailors coach Sean Hicks said. "The things I liked were (that) they knew where the ball needed to go when it was hit, and everyone was backing people up. I had nine guys out there who knew what to do. I haven't had that."

Steamboat lost to Bayfield, 10-5, and Paonia, 8-1, on Fri-day. Steamboat then lost to Hotchkiss, 16-14, on Saturday.

Errors and inconsistent pitching hurt Steamboat, but Hicks said the Sailors performed well for their first three games of the year.

In the loss to Bayfield, junior Jack Serhant got the start on the mound and struggled to get anything but a fastball across the plate.

"It was a good lesson for all the pitchers," Hicks said. "You can't pitch at the varsity level with just a fastball. You have to get more than one pitch across."

Senior Ben Montoya, last season's ace pitcher, struggled early against Paonia in Friday's game but responded in later innings.

"He was up in the strike zone, throwing it waist high, and they were teeing off," Hicks said. "As the game went on, he did what he had to do and kept it down. The first two innings they got five runs, and I bet he threw 40-some pitches in the first two innings. The rest of the game, he probably only threw 35."

Steamboat opened the season swinging the bats, scoring five runs on 10 hits against Bayfield. The bats weren't so hot against Paonia. The Sailors scored just once on three hits, but they had no errors.

The Sailors had their most exciting game in Saturday's finale against Hotchkiss. Trailing 8-1 after two innings, Steamboat rallied and cut Hotchkiss' lead to 9-8. Going into the last inning, it was 16-10 before the Sailors lost, 16-14.

"We had 18 hits and two errors, one of which was marginal," Hicks said. "They just improved every game. It didn't matter if it was your lead-off batter of the No. 9 guy, I was confident in whoever went up there, that they were going to continue the rally."

Unlike past years, the Sailors have depth in this team. Now, Hicks said, the program is inheriting experienced, skilled players, which should help make the Sailors competitive again this season.

This is Hicks' last year because he and his wife are expecting their second child. He wants to stay involved in the high school program and help whomever is named the next coach with logistics such as scheduling and raising money. He decided to announce his resignation early to give the school district ample time to find a suitable replacement.

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