RANGELY | The Rangely High School 2019 baseball team started its official practice on Monday, Feb. 25. The team for this year looks strong as eight of nine starters return for the varsity program. This year is also exciting because the number of players is high enough for a junior varsity program to have some scheduled games to increase the playing time for all members of the program.
This year’s program member includes three returning first team Western Slope All-Conference selections from the 2018 season: seniors Tristan Moore (two-straight selections, 2017, 2018), Stetson Cudo and junior Dylan LeBleu. Drew Brannan is also returning as a Western Slope All-Conference honorable mention from the 2018 season. Other returning seniors are, OF Trenton Files, INF/OF Grady Nielsen and OF CJ Lucero. All of the seniors are returning varsity letter award winners.
Only one junior returns to the program this year in P/INF Dylan LeBleu. LeBleu has been an anchor for the team since he entered the program in 2017 as a freshman, has made numerous appearances on the mound for the Panthers and leads the program in ERA in all three years he has been in the program.
Sophomores who picked up large amounts of playing time as freshmen return for the Panthers for 2019. These sophomores include, INF/P Austin Davis, INF/P Ryan Richens, OF/P Anthony Lujan, OF/P Hunter Holmes and new to the program this year is OF Philip Noyes.
Along with the sophomores, the freshman class is also strong with talent. Many of the freshman will be looked upon to play a large role in the varsity program this year. The new members of the freshman class are Keihlin Myers, Justin Cudo, Byron Mackay, Braxton Moore and Wyatt Tull.
The Panthers will look to start off their season against a familiar non-league foe in the Aspen Skiers, weather permitting on Tuesday, March 12 in El Jebel, Colo. The weather has posed a problem for the Panthers so far this year as we have had to practice inside for the first two weeks of the season and the coaching staff does not think this will end anytime soon.
One of the main teaching moments that Coach Lohry, Coach LeBleu and Coach Wilkie look to have the players focus on is facing adversity in a positive way. The weather has proposed adversity for all members of the baseball program and the coaches are using it to continue to teach the players life lessons on it with adversity. As for now the team will continue to work in the confined area of the gym as they work on hitting, defense, pitching and the mental side of the game.
The Panthers will continue to play in the Western Slope League with league matches with Hotchkiss, Paonia and Meeker.
According to CHSAA and their pre-season rankings, the Panthers will face a tough league schedule once again with Hotchkiss coming in ranked No. 2 in 2A baseball and Paonia being ranked No. 8. Meeker and Rangely are both unranked and the Panthers look to take on the tough schedule with grit and determination to improve on the previous season records.
The players have taken a new approach into this season as most of the boys enjoyed a great amount of success in football and they look to do the same in baseball this year in establishing a new identity for Rangely High School baseball.
Special to the Herald Times