Having moved into the Continental League, Castle View is hoping to build on its new Class 5A identity.
Castle View High School baseball brings a mix of youth and experienced players to its 2012 season. The Sabercats had a solid summer season playing together and enjoying being a team, View coach Shawn Wyss said. Over the summer, the Cats won the Mert Letofsky Connie Mack tournament and also played in Omaha, Neb., for the fifth consecutive year.
The spring, however, is the Cats’ time to show what they learned, not just over the summer but the previous season as well.
“We are entering our second season in the Continental League,” said Wyss, in his sixth season as View head coach. “Our players learned at the end of the season last year that we ‘belonged’ in 5A, and we are looking to build on that feeling.”
View has a handful of returning starters, including Bryce Lich, Chad Sonka, Trevor Smeeton, Garrett Johnson, Chris Cruz,Ellis Kelly, Austin Smith and Kaleb Geiger. Lich returns to center field after having signed a letter of intent to play for Colorado Northwestern Community College after graduation. Sonka is a senior pitcher and first baseman. Both he and Lich are three-year varsity starters.
Smeeton returns at second back and will increase his time on the mound. He hit .500 at the plate last season as a freshman. Johnson is a left-handed pitcher and outfielder, and Wyss described him as an anchor for the Sabercats’ staff.
“[He] pitched very well down the stretch last season for us and had a very good summer,” the coach said.
Cruz is a junior who serves as a pitcher, designated hitter and at first base. He should also see more time from last year. He was the Cats’ closing pitcher and DH. Kelly, a junior at shortstop, saw some action at third base as well but will be in the stop’s position full-time this year.
Smith, a senior, moves to the outfield from the shortstop post. He may provide much of the team’s leadership needs this season.
“We hope to [see him] provide leadership from the starting quarterback on the football team,” Wyss said.
Lich and Sonka, a potential collegiate player, are expected to fill in leadership roles as well.
A sophomore, Geiger plays at catcher and infield. He saw limited time last season but the coach is hoping for big things from him.
“They all have to step up in order for us to do well in the ever-tough Continental League,” Wyss said.
The Sabercats are expecting Legend to be tough this season among league opponents. The usual toughies Chaparral, Regis Jesuit, Highlands Ranch, Heritage and ThunderRidge should be toppling teams as well. Wyss said it’s any team’s league championship for the taking with Legend and Ranch having the strongest pitching talent.
“Don't count out Castle View,” he said. “Our team is talented enough and has the right makeup of youth and experience and they genuinely like to play together. Sounds like a fun season ahead for us.”
Wyss said the biggest struggle for high school baseball teams is keeping the players together for a summer season. There is always outside entities promising bigger and better things, the coach said.
“Just let the players play at their high school,” Wyss said. “I want to see the selfishness leave the game.”
There also needs to be more games in the spring season, he said, but he’s tired of weather getting the blame.
“Yes, the weather is something to deal with, but I feel we use that as an excuse,” Wyss said. “Let the kids play more games. Let them qualify for national records. Let us play four or five more games.”
Castle View started its season at home against Bear Creek and won 6-3. Lich hit a double in that game.