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By Jocelyn Rowley
Sports@lhvc.com 

Niwot Legion B team struggles in early summer league play

 


It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Niwot’s summer Legion B baseball team, which is sponsored by Niwot Baseball, Inc.. With just three wins and six losses through the first nine games of the season, including an 18-4 drubbing by Northern League foe Thompson Valley last Thursday, the Cougars have seemed overmatched at times this summer. Luckily, that hasn’t diminished new Niwot High head coach Adam Strah’s essentially positive outlook for the Cougars.

With many seniors lost to graduation, Strah knew there were bound to be some growing pains in Niwot’s summer baseball program, but he hopes getting his youthful squad some much-needed playing time against skilled opponents will pay dividends next season.

“A lot of these kids have just not played at this level,” he said, noting most team members are undergraduates with little to no varsity experience. “They’re kids coming off of the C team or JV, or even kids that have been with the varsity but not been on the field. There’s a level of play they’re just now figuring out, and their eyes are opening to that.”

Niwot baseball program lost a total of ten varsity players, so this year’s Legion team is drawn mostly from ranks of the JV and C teams, including Johnny Carmona (OF), Mason Kunkel (2B), Adrian Ortiz (OF), Jaxton Pentzel (1B- OF), and Zane Sniffin (OF), all of whom will be seniors in 2018. Juniors Ben Karbassi (C), Jaryd Meek (1B), Dylan Ferrero (3B/OF), Ben Oster (UTL), and Jacob Bonora (OF/P) are also on the team, as are sophomores Will Douthit (INF/P) and Ben Strid (OF/P). Among the varsity veterans, Joey DesEnfants (IF/P), Aidan Galloway (OF/P) and Ben Goss (UTL) have joined the Legion team, while Caleb Martinez (P) and Colton Goldfarb (C) are competing for private club teams this summer. Cameron Hassert (INF/P), the lone freshman to see varsity action last season, is splitting the difference, platooning between Niwot Legion B and yet another club team. Niwot competes in Legion B’s Northern conference, which also includes teams from Boulder, Holy Family, and Fort Morgan.

The team’s overall lack of experience has been on display repeatedly this summer, especially on defense. In last week’s lopsided loss to Thompson Valley, the Cougars committed at least four errors in the first inning, and gave up nine runs, most of them unearned. For Strah, shoring up his team’s fundamentals is one of his primary aims this summer.

“There’s so much that could be fixed,” he admitted. “We need to work on playing catch. Our games would look so different if we just play catch, so that’s just been a big emphasis. We talk about that a lot.

We know no one is trying to make an error,” he continued. “It’s just getting them to a level of focus where if we just play catch, then our innings look so much different.”

Depsite his team’s struggles, Strah pointed to a number of positive trends for the squad, on both sides of the field.

“In many of our games, we’ve scored in more innings than we haven’t,” he said. “There’ve been some games where we scored one run in each of five innings, so we’ve talked about needing a more crooked number at times. But the positive is we’ve scored in five out of the seven innings.”

Strah is also optimistic about Niwot’s pitching prospects, and hopes to see some veterans take their turns on the mound in 2018.

“We still have some staples,” said Strah. “DesEnfants is getting the innings he needs. Now that he’s a junior, he’s definitely going to be in the mix. Galloway is the same story.

One of our sophomores, Will Douthit, he’s going to be a very good pitcher,” Strah continued. “It’s been fun to watch him get those innings.”

As for his less experienced pitchers, the new coach said their time this summer with assistant coach Mike Newton, who is the Cougars’ pitching coach during the regular season, will prove invaluable down the line. “They get a varsity pitching coach with them at this level, and that’s been a really good thing.”

Strah also lauded the team’s tenacity. “They have battled, and I like that our dugout stays up.” he said. “There’ve been days where they’re down early by double-digits, and all of the sudden they come back with four or five runs. They aren’t quitting, but they’re realizing they have a lot to learn.”

Niwot’s Legion B team is scheduled to play at least 22 games this summer, concluding with a state tournament during the last weekend in July. Up next for the Cougars is a five-game 4th of July tournament starting June 29. Niwot Baseball, Inc., is also fielding two additional teams this summer, including a U16 team, headed by Cougar assistants Joey Raubenheimer and Colin York, and a U15 team.

Raubenheimer was an assistant varsity coach for Niwot High School last season, and has played professionally overseas. York, a Skyline High School grad who played at Southern New Hampshire University, was the head coach for Niwot’s JV team last spring.

 

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