The Paonia Eagles opened the baseball season at 2-0, sweeping a doubleheader against the Uintah Utes last Thursday in Grand Junction, 3-0, 8-4.
Last season the Eagles won the District 2 championship on a 5-4 win over rival Hotchkiss. After a heartbreaker 4-2 loss in state semifinals, the Eagles return with all but two players from the 2016 season. In Class 2A, Paonia is ranked first by the Colorado High School Activities Association heading into the season.
Under head coach Nate Miller, in 2016 Paonia posted a 22-2 record and was a state leader in statistics in almost all categories. The Eagles return three of the top hitters in the state in 2016, including all-state first team members Kaden Seriani (pitcher/catcher/third baseman), Trevor Smith (P/third baseman) and all-state second team player Jaden Miller (C/P).
Returning seniors include Alex Lozano at left field, short stop Colby Simpson, center fielder Garrett Beck, first baseman Dagan Rienks, Justin Peterson and Alex Sanchez.
The Eagles' seven juniors include second baseman and all-state honoree Slater Podgorny, Clay Campbell, Derek Holt, Poncho Lopez and Anders Schopp. Sophomores Soul Connolly and David Lozano round out the varsity roster.
Paonia competes in the Class 2A District 3/5 along with Dolores, Ignacio, Hotchkiss, Meeker and Rangely.
The Eagles hosted 4A Delta Tuesday, March 21, at Volunteer Park. This Saturday they host a doubleheader against Daysprings Christian Academy (Greeley) at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Next Tuesday, they travel to Olathe.