As he enters his 12th year as head coach for the Hotchkiss Bulldogs baseball team, Jason Yantzer said that he still wonders every year about his lineup after losing his seniors. Last year, he lost six talented seniors after a successful 21-4 season and a fourth-place finish at state.
"But it always comes out that somebody steps up."
With 24 players and five seniors out for the team, there's a great pool of talent to choose from.
Seniors Jaime Rodriguez and Edgar Macias return to the lineup, and Ryan Pachl and Marco Meza will move up from junior varsity.
Great pitching is key and the Bulldogs have several pitchers they can go to, said Yantzer. Jacobe Galley, Macias and Rodriguez all bring tournament experience to this year's team, and Meza comes with three years' experience at the JV level. Incoming freshman Devon Rupe pitched for the Babe Ruth U-13 state champion Tri-County Mustangs and could step in as the season progresses.
Other than seniors, the program didn't lose any players, said Yantzer, and gained junior Brayden Wilson and senior Kacey Miles. Both played as freshmen or sophomores and return after participating in other spring sports.
Both assistant coaches bring college-level experience to the team. Blake Carlquist returns as the pitching coach. Carlquist played for Mesa State College and was on the 2009 World Series champion team. Gates Shaklee, who played for Yantzer in high school, will also assist. Shaklee was a safety for the Adams State football team. "He's already a veteran coach to the program," said Yantzer of Shaklee. "He knows what I expect."
Assistant coach Zac Lemon will take the season off and his talents will be missed, "But he's with us in spirit," said Yantzer.
Hotchkiss opened their season Monday night with a close 2-0 victory over Paonia. They play a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. at Roaring Fork High School.blog comments powered by Disqus