Pitching and leadership were scarce on the diamond for the Jaguars last year. If that remains the same this time around, it will again be a long season.
However, with five seniors and five returning starters, Rock Canyon High School baseball takes the field with hopes of that leadership void being filled. Returning again with head coach John Cronican, his second season at the post, the Jags will look heavily upon Jeff Prior, Ty Wiest and Chris Sauer. Cronican said those three players should be setting the tone of the season.
“If they have success, we can have success,” Cronican said.
In addition, Chris Givin and Quinn Oniell are two freshman who will also start on varsity an contribute immediately.
Last year, Rock Canyon finished 3-16 overall and 2-9 in the Continental League with no postseason. What may help the Jags show improvement this year is their players’ off-season highlights.
Each player in the Rock Canyon diamond program spent the summer playing on several levels of club baseball under the 5280 Baseball team. Each of those levels played out of state and at highly competitive tournaments. Cronican said he hopes the off-season experience will “jump start” the Jaguars own competitive spirit and knowledge of baseball.
However, leadership is still a must this year.
“All five of our seniors have to step up their leadership,” Cronican said. “The rest of the team is young or learning to work as a team, so the seniors must work to show how leadership is assumed and emulated.”
This season, the team’s work off the field should also be exciting. For example, the Jags are helping the Mile High Down Syndrome Association by donating Colorado Rockies tickets from the fundraising program Rock Canyon joined this season.
On the field, Cronican said the effort on every pitch will be tremendous by this group.
As for the league, the Jags expect Regis and Highlands Ranch to be head-and-shoulders above the rest, having established a strong pitching roster. Ponderosa and ThunderRidge are expected to have young talent. Chaparral always puts quality teams on the field, Cronican said.
Legend has an abundance of talent but injuries and leadership could hurt the Titans. Littleton has one pitcher who can beat anyone any game, and Mountain Vista is settling into its new coach, and Cronican expects they’ll be troublesome this season. In addition, Heritage baffles the Canyon coach every season, he said.