Bears baseball embraces target

Wednesday, March 9, 2011 8:19 PM

Dolores is the reigning 2A San Juan Basin League baseball champions and is loaded to repeat. The Bears know they have a target on their backs and will get the other teams’ best shot in the SJBL.

Advancing to the regional playoffs has been the norm for the past three years, but Dolores has yet to win a playoff game during that stretch. The Bears feel this is the year to win in the post-season.

“This year, I think we have the potential and the talent to make it to state,” Dolores senior pitcher Austin McCracken said. “I think if we peak at the right time, we’ll be able to make it to state and do fine.”

McCracken also will see time at catcher and infield. Senior Tyler Underwood will play shortstop and see some time at pitching. Senior slugger Ryan Greene will be in the outfield.

“This group of kids, we’re looking competitive,” Dolores High School coach Jim Everin said. “It’s early. We just need a lot of positive reps. You rely on those seniors to help out with the underclassmen.”

The Bears are working out some early season kinks in practice and had a chance to scrimmage Bayfield last Saturday.

“In the scrimmage, we played well,” Underwood said. “It was our first time being outside, really, and Bayfield, it was their first time. We still need to work on making the fundamental play and hitting the ball, but we still did well. I was impressed with the way we played.”

There were positives from the scrimmage, and expectations, as always, remain high.

“Every year I go on a baseball field, I expect the kids to come to practice with a great attitude. I expect the kids to come to practice willing to get better from the previous day, and push themselves and their teammates,” Everin said. “I’m the first person to say I’m as competitive as the kids are, and I’ll push them. We teach the kids the right way to play baseball.”

The first game is Saturday at Piedra Vista High School in baseball rich Farmington, N.M., at 11 a.m. The Bears also have a date at Farmington High School on April 5. Everin feels it’s important to face the tough competition in Farmington.

“You have to go to Farmington and get games because the weather is good there,” Everin said. “When you go to Farmington, you need to be prepared to go down there because you could get blown out of the water. We’ve been competitive.”

Another highlight on the nonconference schedule is the three-day Cortez Invitational on March 17-19.

Within the SJBL, Ignacio, Nucla and rival Dove Creek will look to knock Dolores off the top of the league ranks.

Reach Bobby Abplanalp at