A year ago, the Riverdale Ridge baseball team won the Longs Peak crown, won 17 of 25 games and advanced to the second round of the state 4A baseball tournament.
Coach Ray Garza doesn’t think there’s anything in the way of a potential repeat effort in 2023.
One reason is senior pitcher Ty Thompson, who signed a college letter of intent to play at the University of Northern Colorado in NCAA Division I baseball next year. Thompson allowed 22 earned runs in 50 innings last year.
“Appearing in most of our games last season, he showed flashes of being a dominating pitcher throughout the year,” Garza said. “His success has carried over to the entire pitching staff, which includes returning athletes Daniel Hoodak (27.2 innings pitched in 2022 and an earned-run average of 4) and Jaiden Villareal.”
Garza called his starting rotation “solid.”
“They have helped us in the past, and while they are taking on different roles this season, they have been preparing over the last year to take on the new challenges that lie ahead,” Garza said. “They will help ease the transition of the younger players on offense by eating up innings and keeping us in ballgames until we get settled.”
Elijah Lofton, who batted .424 a season ago, is the most experienced outfielder on the squad. He’ll stay in center field.
“Having Lofton back and his experience is a plus and should help (newcomers) Dakota Albers and Hunter Hendrixson get ready to compete,” Garza said. “I like the talent we have available to us, and we’re going to find the right mix of players to play out there.”
Two of last year’s infield starters – Cayden Trujillo (.312 batting average and 21 RBIs last season) and Landon Brophy (.366 batting average with 26 hits in 2022) .. return. But Garza needs to find someone to fill slots and first and third base. He has a number of candidates .. sophomore Tyler Swan, senior Austin Williams, junior Landon Mckenzie, senior Josh weber and sophomore Colton Lancaster – and Hoodak.
“We also need to find an everyday, go-to catcher,” Garza said. “The opening of spring practice and the first few weeks of the season will provide an opportunity for candidates to grab the starting spots. I’m eager to see who steps up to claim the starting spots. They have attributes that are very positive and can help us win. But there will need to be someone that steps forward to take the job.
“Finding a solid catcher to take over the duties to catch our experienced pitching staff will be the biggest spot to fill. And if so, they will play a big part in helping start the defense as well as the offense.”