Young team hopes to challenge for playoff spot
- Lon Austin
- Central Oregonian - Sports
>With only three seniors on roster Cowboys are still learning how to compete and win close gamesThe Crook County High School baseball team has gotten off to a slow start this season, but is confident that they are going to be competitive as the season goes along.
"The guys are working hard," said Head Coach Chris Felton. "They are committed and are putting in extra time. We are youthful, but I am pleased with how hard the kids come out and work."
The Cowboys have just three seniors on their roster: Mike Haring, Zach Close, and Luke Estes.
"You know, they've put in a lot of time in the offseason, playing summer ball, and gotten themselves into position where they are leaders of the team," said Felton. "We have high expectations for our seniors and that includes offensive output, but also team leadership."
Last season the Cowboys finished in the bottom half of the league, but they are hoping to turn things around this season.
"We want to contend for a playoff spot," said Felton. "We think that we have the ability to do that but we need to learn to be competitive and win the close games. We need to do the small things to win games."
In their losses so far this season, the Cowboys have played solid baseball at times, but have given up big innings that have taken them out of games.
"That's part of being youthful," said Felton. "We need to figure out how to be consistent and play seven innings of baseball. One of our goals it to not allow more than two runs in an inning the rest of the season. If we eliminate the big inning it will give us an opportunity to win."
The Crook County baseball program has fewer players than they hoped for, but still have enough players to field three teams this season.
"The coaches are excited about having three teams, and about the youth programs that are starting in the community," Felton said. "We feel that the more kids that are playing baseball the more the program is going to improve."
The team is hoping to improve on last season's record which saw them finish 2-12 in the IMC and 7-19 overall.
This week the Crook County baseball diamond is being used for a tournament involving teams from throughout the state. Summit High School is officially hosting the tournament, but their fields are unplayable. Teams from South Eugene, Reynolds, Summit and Highland Utah are all playing in Prineville while the Cowboys are travelling to play games in Eugene.
"One of the things that we would like to be able to do is to run a tournament like this every spring break, but we would like to be playing in it," said Felton. "We think that it would be great for Crook County baseball, and great for central Oregon."