Morenci baseball 4.9

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci’s first-year baseball coach Roger Pontious is taking a realistic approach to the season.

He’s not going to optimistically tell you the Bulldogs are going to go out and whip everybody in the league. No question about it—that will be his goal when TCC play gets going April 16 against Sand Creek, but it’s not likely to happen.

“We’re young and we’re going to stumble,” Pontious said. “Game experience is lacking and you can only get that by playing games.”

Only three players are back with extensive experience. All the gaps will be filled by three sophomores who put in a little time last year as freshmen and others who are new to the team.

“We had lots of talent last year so there wasn’t much opportunity for the younger players,” Pontious said. “We’ll be playing to win this year, but it’s going to be tough.”

He noted that several league teams have junior varsity squads and Whiteford is even starting a junior high team. Morenci hasn’t had the numbers for a JV team in several years, but increasing participation leading to a JV squad is one of Pontious’s goals.

Among the five seniors on the squad, only three were on the team last season. Anthony Barron returns to the mound—the only returning pitcher—and to play shortstop. Barron was named offensive player of the year last season.

Steven Pontious, last season’s defensive player of the year, is back at second base and he’ll put in some time on the mound. Devin Martinez is back for a final season, but he’s leaving first base to play behind the plate.

Kyle McClain took a break from baseball last season, but he’s back for his senior year. He’ll play in the outfield with newcomer Tim Apger.

Seven sophomores bolster the Bulldogs’ numbers, including three returners—shortstop and pitcher Jarrett Keller, center fielder Issac Jeffers and third baseman Cody Long.

Newcomers are outfielders Mike Snyder, Josh Moses and Ed Cousino, along with catcher/infielder Loren DelMonico.

Freshman Nick Wilson has earned a starting role at first base. Kenny Maxfield will try for an outfield spot and Brett Bovee will work at the shortstop position.

Dustin McCullough is serving as a pitching coach and Mark Lamley will also serve as an assistant.

Coach Pontious said his team has been hitting well in the batting cage, but he knows it’s an entirely different situation when an opponent’s pitcher is on the mound. He also sees good base-running speed with several players.

He expects good performances from his two returning pitchers, but there will be lot of growing with the others.

“We’re going to expect the younger kids to come through,” Pontious said. “If everybody plays together and believes in each other, they’re going to grow.”

• The Bulldogs are scheduled to open the season Thursday at Erie-Mason, followed by a double-header Monday at Addison. The league season opens at home April 16 against last year’s co-champions from Sand Creek.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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