Sailors baseball find positives in late-season struggles
May 3, 2014
Steamboat Springs — How did the Steamboat Springs High School baseball team fare in a Saturday doubleheader that was both its home opener and season finale?
Coach Rusty McRight didn't mince words.
"Terrible," he said.
But the lopsided losses to league-leading Delta — 15-1 and 12-0 — didn't have McRight down on his program.
Instead, he's bullish.
After forfeiting a game earlier in the week because of a lack of numbers, there were questions as to whether the Sailors would be able to field enough players to cover all the positions Saturday.
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McRight challenged the team in a Thursday meeting, however, and he was thrilled with how the squad responded.
They insisted they wanted to play Saturday's game, even if it meant two ugly outcomes.
Why things unfolded the way they did wasn't a mystery.
"We were playing the top team in the conference with basically our JV squad," McRight said. "We had three strong varsity players."
With nearly everyone playing out of position, the whole team had to adapt.
Jesse Pugh started the first game, then when he was relieved by Ryan Jeep, stepped in as catcher for the first time in his career.
Billy Clark started the second, and when he tired, Jeep stepped in again.
That didn't make for a pretty score, but the ability and even more so the willingness of those and the rest of the players to adjust meant everything to McRight.
"I gave them the option, letting them know we were going into battle with only half an army," McRight said. "They said they wanted to play, even though they knew we'd have a lot of people out of place. People stepped up and played, so we coached them so they could finish the season playing.
"Was this a positive? Yes, it was. They said they wanted to play the best team in the conference so they could see what they had to do to be better themselves."
The games may have been "terrible," and dropped the team to 9-10 on the season. But McRight said there was a lot more to Saturday's game than that.
"They wanted to step up and put themselves out there to be better ballplayers," he said. "That's what it's going to take."