Steamboat Springs It took months of trips to the School Board and plenty of convincing for Hayden High School to get its first baseball team.
Even after the team was formed and practices started, the program's saga was far from over. It took the squad nearly as long to get on the field because the first four games of the 2008 schedule were canceled because of inclement weather.
The Tigers, playing a junior varsity schedule in their first year of existence, let loose all their frustration when they finally stepped inside the chalk. Hayden won its first baseball game Tuesday, knocking off Rangely, 6-2.
Coach Wayne DeLuca credited a brilliant pitching performance from senior Aaron Haskins, quality relief and a tough defense for the win, though he said his team entered the game with an attitude that wouldn't have accepted a loss.
"Everyone knew it was the first game in the history of Hayden High School baseball, the first time Hayden ever put a team on the field," DeLuca said. "They really wanted to win that game. We had kids do whatever they needed to do to get in front of balls. It took an entire team effort for the game to come out that way."
Haskins went 4 1/3 innings without giving up a run and allowing just a single hit. It was the first time he was able to stretch out and let loose this spring, with the team confined to practice in the gym since late February.
Those early season close quarters combined with a daunting looming schedule led DeLuca to pull him in the fifth inning in spite of his success. Freshman Chantley Holmes was plenty capable of finishing the remaining innings off, allowing two runs while working with a big lead.
"Chantley has a unique style, doesn't have an overpowering fastball, but three or four pitches and he kept hitters off balance," DeLuca said. "We were tickled with his performance."
Hayden built that lead by scoring four runs off a handful of Rangely errors in the fifth inning.
"It just flowed from there," DeLuca said. "Our entire lineup was hitting the ball. We had a few guys who this was their first year playing since Little League. They hadn't seen a pitch in a long time, but they hit the ball right along with the juniors and seniors."
All the cancellations will now make for what the team hopes is a busy stretch, DeLuca said. Hayden travels today to Meeker for a game, and is on the brink of adding games against junior varsity squads from Steamboat Springs and Moffat County.
"When we were trying to get a team, I told the School Board as soon as they granted one, we'd get a winter of record proportions," DeLuca said. "We have eight pitchers who can go for us. Still, if we end up packing a whole bunch of games together, it's difficult."