Season Preview: Summit High baseball
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
FARMER’S KORNER – A batting cage wedged between a 3-foot-high snowbank and a set of stadium bleachers. Nets and cushioned balls on a basketball court in a gymnasium. A synthetic turf field graded and lined for football, soccer and lacrosse.
That’s what the Summit High baseball team has to work with each spring gearing up for the season – a season, each year, filled with “home” games played nearly 75 miles from the friendly confines of Farmer’s Korner.
Attend a Tiger hitting session or a series of fielding drills, though, and you’re not likely to hear a moan about the blistering winter wind or the funny hops from a grounder fielded off the gym’s hardwood floor.
To the Tiger players, this is simply baseball in Summit County.
“We just go out and hope what we have been doing helps,” sophomore catcher Gabe Stuhr said during batting practice Friday in the sub-freezing, snowy weather at Farmer’s Korner. “There’s nothing you really can do. You just have to go out and play.”
And, just like in years past, that’s what the Tigers will do.
Although, starting with their season-opening doubleheader today at Jefferson High School, one thing will be vastly different. With six returning varsity players – four starters – and a lot of young talent, the Tigers not only look to be on the verge of a potentially strong season but also building a strong program.
“I’m really optimistic about the future of the program with those young kids,” first-year SHS head coach Tom Looby said. “The pipeline looks good for the players coming up.”
The roster the Tigers are working with looks pretty good to the coach as well.
Summit has only one senior – Tucker Limbruner – and two juniors, but the wealth of young talent, Looby hopes, should lead the Tigers to some wins.
“We have solid pitching potential,” the coach said. “We have quite a few guys that pitched for us last year that should do pretty well.”
Limbruner is one of them. Looby said the senior will be counted on for quality innings and to provide leadership.
Other pitchers to fill out the Tiger rotation and bullpen will be sophomores Blaze Walker and Jason Looby.
And Stuhr, who started behind the plate as a freshman last spring, will be leaned on pretty heavily as well.
“Gabe’s a really solid player, knowledgeable about the game and a good leader,” Looby said. “He does a lot of really good things for us.”
Despite still being one of the younger players on the team, Stuhr said he embraces a leadership role.
“Yeah, it’s definitely nice,” he said. “I just try to keep everyone calm and not stressed out.”
Playing in the 4A Jeffco League can be a bit rattling for a young team, though, especially one with as little true field time as Summit. Most other teams in the Front Range league can play year-round on outdoor fields.
Looby admits the competition will be tough but feels his team just needs to keep it simple when faced with solid opponents.
“The keys will be having good innings from a young pitching staff and not walking many people. If you don’t walk people, you don’t have rallies,” he said. “We also need some guys returning to step up and hit the ball.”
As far as goals, Looby simply wants his team to “taste victory” as much as it can while developing the young talent.
Stuhr, meanwhile, is cautiously optimistic his team will have a big year.
Although, while he looks around at the snow drifts and sheets of ice surrounding the Tigers’ batting cage, he knows there’s one thing the Tigers certainly won’t achieve this spring: playing at home.
“It’s kind of a bummer, but it’s warmer down there (in Denver), better baseball weather,” he said with a smile.
The Tigers’ first game at Jefferson is slated to start at 11 a.m. today. The second game is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
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