Kicking off their season with a new manager and several young players, just how good the Dolores High School baseball team would be was unclear.
Four games into the season, many questions remain, but it appears that this year's Bears team will challenge opponents day in and day out.
Bears place second in Cortez
Opening the Cortez Tournament on March 15 against Montezuma-Cortez High School, the Bears struggled mightily, losing 12-0 to the tournament hosts.
Although the Bears avoided trouble in the first inning after pitcher Kellen Gatzke mowed down three consecutive M-CHS batters with the bases loaded, things quickly fell apart for Dolores.
Unable to tie hits together against pitcher Andrew Laymon, the Bears' offense failed to score runs as the M-CHS offense flourished.
"It was a little tough," said Bears' catcher Deano Valdez. "It was early in the morning and we had to wake up a little bit and get going."
Wake up the Bears did after their loss to Cortez as Dolores demolished Dove Creek 10-2 in the tournament's second game.
Key in the Bears win was the clutch hitting of Ethen Upton, who lined a 2-run double down the third-base line to put the Bears ahead 3-0 early.
Continuing to pour it on in the second inning, the Bears pulled ahead 5-0 after Guy Wallace trotted home on a wild pitch.
Although Dove Creek scored two runs in the top of the third inning to cut the Bears' lead to 5-2, Dolores pitchers locked down and willed their team to victory.
"We hit the ball well against Dove Creek," said Bears manager Rusty Hamilton. "We saw a little bit different pitching compared to what we've been seeing."
With a 1-1 record, the Bears finished second in the three-team tournament.
Bears fall to Pagosa Springs
Playing against Pagosa Springs on March 18, the Bears fell just short, losing 7-4 in Dolores.
Key in the Bears' loss was a tough first inning that saw Pagosa Springs score three runs off Dolores starting pitcher Ethen Upton.
After Pagosa Springs scored one run in the top of the second inning to extend their lead to 4-0, the Bears battled back, scoring two runs in the bottom of the inning when Andrew Morgan lined a 2-run double to left-center field.
Unable to sustain their offensive rhythm however, the Bears fell behind 7-2 before scoring their final two runs in the fifth inning.
"We need to get our bats going and reduce errors, but we're doing good," said Morgan.
With their record at 1-3, the Bears play March 20 in Farmington at the Piedra Vista Tournament.