Normally around this time of year in Nevada the weather isn’t reminiscent of what one would think would be the conditions for spring sports. With the unseasonably warm temperatures and sunny skies, the weather was a topic of discussion around the first day of spring practices.
“The weather’s been great so that’s been a blessing,” Spanish Springs baseball coach Ben Hofmann said. “We talked about it earlier and this is the first time in four years we’ve been able to hold tryouts outside. That alone has worked better for us than it has in the past. I’m hoping that the weather holds out for the next three months and we’re good, but I’m expecting a foot of snow any day. The team seems to be taking advantage of the good weather.”
The Cougars baseball team was not the only group excited to get back on the diamond on the first day of practice.
“We’re just trying to get the cobwebs off the kids and get everybody out ready to play,” Reed baseball coach Ray Charles said. “We’re excited to be out here. We ended really strong last year so they’re anxious to get back on the field and see what we can do. We’ll be a little older this year and so some of that leadership will be good.”
For the Raiders, who started 2-11 in league play last season, a slow start is something they want to avoid.
“Obviously everybody wants to qualify for the playoffs,” Charles said. “Our goal is just to get better and hopefully with the tournament at the beginning of the year and then starting off with McQueen we can do that. Just getting off to a good start, that’s our main focus. Last year we started off in the hole a little bit. Hopefully we start off a little more positive this year. We’ve had some good fall and winter sports success, so hopefully that momentum will help us carry into the spring.”
Reed softball coach Jon Wunder, who has five players that were a part of the Lady Raiders’ 4A girls basketball state championship, is also hoping that success overflows into the softball season.
“They’re excited,” Wunder said. “With the exception of one of them, softball is the primary sport for four of them. While they enjoyed winning state, they’re also looking forward to getting back out here. Last year we finished second in regionals so we have something to prove. We lost three seniors last year and only one was an everyday starter, so we have very high expectations. We feel we should be competing for a regional title again this year.”
For the cross-town rival Cougars’ programs, youth will be a major factor in how well the baseball and softball seasons play out.
“We’re young,” Hofmann said. “We lost 10 or 11 seniors last year, so we’re real young. We have a lot of growing to do. We’ll see. We only have a handful of kids that really have contributed at the varsity level. Our JV program was really good that last couple of years so we have kids coming up that have some experience and can play the game.”
The Lady Cougars program, which has claimed three state championships (2007, 2008, 2010) will also be working with a roster that has little experience at this level.
“We’re going to have a fairly young team,” Spanish Springs softball coach Jeff Davidson said. “We only have a couple seniors. They’re ecstatic to be out here. We’re back on the field and they’re all ready to go. Expectations are going to be to compete every single day and every game and of course make the playoffs and we’ll go from there.”
The Spanish Springs clubs are not the only team in town that will be replacing spots of key players that graduated last spring.
“It’s going to be tough to replace the kids we had last year,” Sparks baseball coach Greg Vasko said. “We had eight seniors who all started and graduated but we have a good group of kids coming back. Last year we won the Mount Rose League and we had a good group of kids that returned from the previous year, so that part was good. This year we have two or three starters back from last year and the other kids are new. We’re just going to do our best job of coaching those kids and getting them competitive. We just start fresh and use what we have and try to get better.”