Cottonwood Colts Prep for 2016 Baseball Season
Mar 09, 2016 02:15PM
● By Bryan Scott
By Sarah Almond | [email protected]
Murray - The Cottonwood High School baseball team had a stellar 2015 season: not only did they go 14-1 in regions, but they also made it to the fourth round of the state tournament. This year the Colts are hoping to capitalize on their recent success and better their overall rakings by claiming the 5A state title.
“We only lost three seniors last year,” Jason Crawford, head coach for the Colts, said. “They were pretty significant impact players, but for the most part we should be able to put together a similar team to last year.”
Crawford, who played first base for Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado (2003-04), has been head coach for the Colts since 2011.
Though the season didn’t officially begin until Feb. 29, the showing of talent at this season’s open-gym practices bode well for the Colts’ end goal.
“So far everything is going really great,” Ben Atkinson, senior captain for the Colts, said. “We are all really excited to get going and I know that everyone is champing at the bit to get the season started. We just want to start playing.”
Crawford and his staff are planning to take 35-40 players this year, more boys than ever before. These kids will compose the sophomore, JV and varsity teams.
“We’ve got a lot of great talent in our large freshman and sophomore classes,” Crawford said. “And all of our guys are all pretty dedicated.”
Even with the influx of underclassmen, the team is senior-dominant, with 10 seniors returning to the field. Still, most of the Colts’ players have been competing together for years.
“We’ve all bonded together really well,” Atkinson said. “I consider every one of the players on the team my brother. I know that kind of sounds funny, but that’s how I see it. We are all really committed and none of us are bigger than ourselves, and I think that’s going to take us pretty far this year.”
For most of the Colts’ players, baseball is life. With club practices running throughout the summer and fall, and three-hour open-gym practices held every day after school, there is rarely a time when the Colts aren’t playing baseball.
“For these high school kids, they feel like baseball is their life,” Crawford said. “You know, they go to school and they go play baseball and that’s all they know. They are super invested in and it’s really neat to see when their hard work pays off.”
Even though Cottonwood might have minimal change within their baseball program this year, they recently moved up a division in the 5A region. In years past, the Colts competed in Division II against schools like Davis, Granger and West. This year, they’ll be playing in Division III, a class stacked with competitive, talented teams such as Taylorsville, Bingham, Brighton and Copper Hills.
“Our schedule is going to be completely different than last year,” Crawford said. “It’s going to be a lot more difficult and we are going to be tested every week, but I’m really excited about that and I know the guys are too.”
The team kicks off their regular season with a four-day tournament in Anaheim, California from March 28 – April 1. This tournament, the National Classic, is notorious for drawing some of California’s top high school teams.
“We know our season is going to be tough,” Crawford said. “But we are ready to face the challenge.”
The team opens their season with a double header against Viewmont High School and Lone Peak High School on Saturday, March 12 at noon.