Steamboat baseball hopes to make playoff run

Sailors team starts season with high expectations

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— Thursday evening in the Steamboat Springs High School gymnasium, the difference in the Sailors baseball team already was evident. 

Players were in constant mot­­ion: in the cage and out of the cage against live pitching. There were fielding drills in one sector and a private yoga lesson in another. 

So for a Steamboat team that has to overcome more than most — constant practices in a gym, no home games in Steamboat and weather that never seems to cooperate — there’s an uncanny sense of belonging with this group.

It’s experienced, it’s deep, and all indications suggest it could be primed for a run to the state playoffs. 

“We embrace the underdog role, not having the history of a Delta and a Palisade,” said Alan Capistron, the team’s No. 1 starter and 3-hole hitter. “I don’t know if they are overlooking us. But we want to force people to beat us rather than beating ourselves.”

A lot is riding on the right arm of Capistron and a much-improved rotation. With baseball in Steamboat, postponements and multiple games usually mean the strongest pitching staff on the Western Slope has a good chance of success. Capistron, who is likely to pitch somewhere in college next year, relies on an upper-80s fastball that he can get up into the low 90s. 

Tyler Brown, Tommy Lyon and Carson Becker are expected to slot in after Capistron, each capable of winning games with fastballs in the mid-80s. 

“I think that we have the most talented team in the four years since I’ve been here,” said Brandon Clark, who will play catcher and have the luxury of overseeing the staff. “We want to have over a .500 record. That’s the biggest goal, and making it to state.”

The lineup also should be better than years past. The Sailors lost just one starter from last year and have as experienced a lineup as they have in four years. 

Capistron, Clark and Brown should slot into the 3-4-5 holes, with Becker and Lyon setting the table. 

“This might be the town’s most talented team in the six years I’ve been here,” said Kellen Baker, who assumes managerial roles after serving as an assistant for five years under former manager Dave Roy. “This might be the deepest team since I’ve been here. We may be small in numbers, but we’re talented.”

Baker said his mindset is to win each inning and not look too far ahead. But with what on paper could be considered Steamboat’s best team in a long time, expectations are high. 

“Definitely, we want to make the playoffs,” Capistron said. “We have a real strong pitching staff. We have five guys that can throw solidly. Pitching wins games. We can hit, but we have to feel like we can pitch just as good.”

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