Bayfield’s ‘best chance’ begins here and now

By Ryan Owens Herald staff writer

Today’s forecast in Bayfield calls for a high of 69 degrees and a 30-percent chance of rain with a possibility of isolated thunderstorms.

But be it hot or cold, windy or calm, drizzling or sunny, it’ll be a good day for baseball as far as the Bayfield High School baseball partisans are concerned.

Postseason baseball will make its return to Bayfield when the third-seeded Wolverines host No. 30 Florence, No. 14 Cedaredge and No. 19 Peak to Peak in the Class 3A District 7 tournament starting at 10 a.m. today at Bayfield Middle School.

When BHS (17-2) meets Florence (5-14) in the first game of the four-team, single-elimination tournament, it’ll be the first playoff baseball game played in Bayfield since 2008, according to BHS athletic director Dave Preszler. That year, the Wolverines advanced to the double-elimination state tournament.

This year’s squad has similar aspirations and is champing at the bit to get started, head coach Tom Horton said.

“They realize this is the best chance we’ve had in a lot of years,” Horton said. “They really want to make it out of this weekend and advance.”

The key might be keeping the Wolverines from getting too keyed up. After all, playing postseason baseball in front of the home crowd is an experience unique to this particular squad, as experienced as it is. But that experience – Bayfield boasts a roster with nine seniors – may be the Wolverines’ saving grace in staying in more of a “taking care of business” mentality.

“It’s kind of a hard thing because we haven’t been in this position,” Horton said. “We always have to travel Round 1, so this is kind of a new thing. But we’ve tried to stress the advantages. ... We’re trying to sell them on the good points on why we should do well (today).

“They’re loose. They’ve been loose all year. They’re a good group of kids.”

A good group of kids and a talented one, too. The Wolverines boast the most potent offense of the four teams, having scored 215 runs according to, 36 runs better than Cedaredge, the next most prolific scoring team of the four. And the Bayfield pitching staff boasts an eye-popping 1.04 team earned-run average.

Bayfield assistant coach Rex Howard, who said he’s been around BHS baseball “off and on for 20 years,” said that this BHS team likely is the most skilled he’s come across.

“As far as this team goes, we’ve had, gosh, over the years a lot of really good players come through. ... I think this team is sort of the culmination of a lot of talent and kind of gleaning from the tradition of history of players in the past,” Howard said. “I would say this is by far probably the most talented team top to bottom we’ve had.”

Now is the time Bayfield’s been itching for. The Wolverines rolled through the Intermountain League season unbeaten as part of a still-active 14-game winning streak. With that business taken care of, it’s finally time to turn eyes toward the ultimate goal of a state title.

“We feel like we’ve got as good a chance right now as we’ve ever had,” Horton said.

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