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Experience brings hope for Devils

Chris FreudVail CO, Colorado

GYPSUM – Last year, Eagle Valley baseball took its lumps. This year, the Devils intend to dish them out.In their second year in the 4A Slope, the Devils went 3-11 in league play and 4-15 overall. But Eagle Valley has a bevy of upperclassmen returning this year, and that has the Devils talking about climbing up in the standings.”I think it’s huge that these kids have had a chance to see what the competition is like at 4A,” first-year skipper Ken Reagan said. “Most of these juniors played varsity last year. They went through that season and played summer ball with a lot of these guys who play at Glenwood, Palisade and Delta. I think they’ve brought their level of play up a little bit.””I’m a lot more excited than how I left last year,” shortstop Bear Barkman said candidly. “The experience will help a lot this year. Everyone’s seen varsity time. Everyone knows what to expect.”On the moundPitching depth is key at any level of baseball. It’s even more crucial at in the Slope where doubleheaders are common place, and inevitably, the weather ends up stringing together a bunch of games.

Reagan seems convinced that Eagle Valley has the necessary depth on the mound, having talked to assistant coach Rob Ellsworth, who managed the team through some happy days at the 3A level.”He said that this is the most pitching depth he’s seen on a team in a long time,” Reagan said. “We have at least nine guys who can pitch, not just guys who can throw.”That would start with junior Hunter Blevins who figures to be the ace of the staff.”Hunter Blevins has had all the experience in the world,” Reagan said. “(Opposing) coaches can’t say enough nice things about him from last year. This year, he’s probably put on close to 20 to 30 pounds. He’s been lifting a lot, so he’s a lot stronger.”Southpaw Dan McKerenen, followed by Barkman and sophomore Ryan McClintock will help Blevins chew up the innings.Lumber

Besides a double play, a pitcher’s best friend is a healthy offense. Barkman and fellow senior Alex Dorothy (second base) will set the table for right-fielder Kevin Mansfield, McKerenen (at first when not pitching), center-fielder Nick Whitehead and Blevins.Catcher Jason Mirelez, left-fielder Herman Hogue and freshman Jack Siebert, a transfer from Florida at the hot sack, should also provide some pop.Eagle Valley’s home diamond is finally clearing up after February’s snow, but the Devils have been inside taking batting practice in the cage and working on an infield set up in the school’s main gym.The Devils hope to get a few outdoor practices in before they’re scheduled to host Conifer Tuesday at 4 p.m.Eagle Valley got outside for two scrimmages in Brighton last weekend, and Reagan liked what he saw.”Those went great,” Reagan said. “We hit the ball very well. We had only one strikeout in two games. For two early-season games, that was good. Our pitchers did very well. They gave up a total of four hits.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.**** GlanceLineup cardSSBear Barkman2BAlex DorothyRFKevin Mansfield

1BDan McKerenenCFNick WhiteheadP Hunter BlevinsCJason MirelezLFHerman Hogue3B Jack Siebert


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