Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs Baseball breeds eternal optimism.
Heck, my roommate, although he probably won’t admit it out loud, thinks the Kansas City Royals can win 85 games this year with a little luck.
But that’s what makes baseball season the most wonderful time of the year. It signifies spring, and with it, expectations are at an all-time high. In Steamboat Springs, baseball usually is relegated to gymnasiums and middle-of-the-pack finishes.
Here’s saying for the first time in a long time, the Steamboat Springs High School baseball team will make an appearance in the state playoffs.
All predictions come with a disclaimer. Most important is that I’m usually wrong. I’m like a decent nine-hole hitter with predictions, carrying a .250 average and a respectable .350 on-base percentage.
From all indications, and through uncanny wisdom, I’m picking the Steamboat baseball team to make the playoffs, however.
It’s never easy in the Western Slope League, where other teams have built-in advantages. Delta, Palisade, Moffat County, Glenwood Springs and Eagle Valley have battled it out the past several years for the top spot. Those teams also get on fields much earlier and generally aren’t relegated to a gym.
But for the first time in the past five years, Steamboat might have one of the most talented rosters in the league.
Steamboat never has had a pitching staff this deep. Alan Capistron, Tommy Lyon, Carson Becker and Tyler Brown all are capable of dominating opponents.
Capistron alone could make a push for player of the year in the league. The senior should slot into the No. 3 hole and play third base when he is not on the mound.
When he is on the mound, it’ll be tough for opponents to get much.
Capistron attended multiple showcases through the winter and already has received scholarship offers to pitch at several community colleges in California and Arizona. He’s also gotten an offer from Mesa State College in Grand Junction and is getting looks from the University of Northern Colorado, among others.
His fastball sits in the upper 80s and touches 90 mph. That makes Capistron a true No. 1 pitcher and possibly the best the league has to offer.
Capistron, along with four or five other players, also started working out in October with throwing sessions two times a week in the morning.
But the main reason Steamboat should make the playoffs is new manager Kellen Baker. Baker, who served as an assistant for the previous five seasons under former manager Dave Roy, brings a new perspective to the team. He’ll be able to relate to the players better and already has started to change the losing culture.
The team begins the season March 12 at Denver East.
By the time April hits, we should know whether the spring will breed the anticipated optimism for the Steamboat baseball team.
— To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@SteamboatToday.com