As the start of spring is fast approaching, so too, is the start of the 2001 Crook County High School baseball season.
>The Cowboys open the 2001 baseball season at the jamboree in Redmond March 12
With a new coach and several returning starters, the squad, which finished 0-18 in the Intermountain Conference and 4-22 overall a year ago, looks to use its seasoned pitchers, combined with its defensive ability to make a run up the IMC ladder.
"The first priorities are to establish hard work and a dedication to fundamentals, because fundamentals are the key to everything in baseball." said head coach Mike Lord, who previously coached at Hillsboro High School. "And to get back to the Cowboy tradition of baseball."
Returning this year for Crook County are senior catcher Chris McKenzie, senior first baseman and pitcher Derek Fitzpatrick, senior second baseman Brett Hisle and senior outfielder Gabe Lucas.
With this core of veteran players, the CCHS coaching staff looks to construct a solid defensive unit.
"I want to establish a good, fundamental team, a team that hustles all the time and a team that's mentally tough," Lord said. "If we do those three things, the scoreboard will take care of itself."
The Cowboys will take the field in competition for the first time March 12 at the jamboree in Redmond. The squad then continues a non-league schedule until the end of March, when IMC play begins. The Cowboys begin league at Hermiston March 30 and end the regular season at Redmond May 10.
"The biggest thing is to have a chance to see the players at certain spots and in different situations," Lord said of the jamboree in Redmond.
Among the other players on this year's squad are junior pitchers John Riley and Kiel Boynton, junior infielders Jeremy Thomas and Dan McCabe, junior outfielder Aron Brundidge, sophomore infielder Tim Puckett and junior James McPhetridge.
As far as the pitching rotation goes, veterans Fitzpatrick, Riley and Boynton will most likely be the primary pitchers for Crook County, with several others being ready if needed.
"There's the saying that good pitching beats good hitting any day," Lord said. "So that what we've been working on, pitching and defense."
In addition to the regular season of Cowboy baseball, coach Lord is trying to build the American Legion summer program as well. The team, now known as the "Crook County Posse," is looking for a team sponsor, one to help with the costs of insurance, tournament fees and umpires.
Those interested in sponsoring the team can contact coach Lord at 416-6900 Ext: 1230.