Baseball Season Preview
After losing eight senior starters and a head coach, there will be considerable challenges for this year’s young baseball team to overcome and achieve the same level of success they had last year, in which they were 15th ranked in the state.
Don’t sleep on them, however, because in the words of Senior Captain and outfielder Mitch Tyse, “We’re gonna shock some people. Everyone is doubting us because we’ve lost so many really good players... but I think we’re gonna surprise some people and make a run for the Front Range League. I’m not gonna be that confident and say we’ll win it, but I think we’ll be in the running.”
Last year, All-American and Colorado Gatorade player of the year Ryan Madden lead a strong veteran team to a 17-4 record, a Front Range League championship, and into pool play of the playoffs, before being bounced by Mountain Vista.
This year, the Knights look to rebuild as Madden brought his talent, and .446 batting average, to Norman, Oklahoma to play baseball with the Sooners. While there’s no immediate talent to replace him, the Knights will look to play more as a team to overcome the loss of Madden.
“Last year there was a lot of talent, but we lacked playing as a team and because there was so much talent I think we were able to get by,” said Tyse. “I think this year we’ve been working a lot on just team chemistry. When game time comes you wanna perform for your teammates instead of yourself.”
Probably the most intriguing part of the transition and rebuilding process will be the hiring of new head coach David Castillo after former coach Rick Harig announced his retirement last winter.
There was an extensive interview process, but Harig and the Fairview administration decided to hire in-house and chose Castillo, an associate head coach with the team last year.
“There were a lot of good candidates who showed up. We had multiple interviews, but how it happened was that Rick made his decision, I found out, and I obviously applied for the position,” said Castillo.
Replacing an All-American and seven senior starters isn’t easy, and the Knights will have to lean heavily this year on returners like Tyse after his breakout year last season.
In addition to Tyse, junior Stone Streeter and senior pitcher Jordan Scheufele are the only returning starters with significant experience from a year ago. Some other players to watch for are Nick Fano, Liam Mckee, Tyler Carpenter, Sam Mcgill, and Jake Willemsen.
Castillo will certainly be looking for new leaders to establish themselves on the team this year.
“A lot of the players that played with them last year got to see those guys and what type of role models they were, and that’s kind of the stage we’re at,” said Castillo. “Now that the torch has been passed to the younger guys, they’re learning how to be those leaders and what the seniors provided for us. That alone, that’s the stage we’re at. They’re the new leaders.”
In an uncertain year, however, Castillo’s goal for the team is simple: just have fun.
“[Our goal is] just to compete and to have fun... [and] that these guys continue to better their baseball skills [and] learn more about the game,” said Castillo. “That is always the end goal-- to just go out there and compete and to have a lot of fun.”