Chemistry has ’Dogs confident this season
The Palisade High School baseball team has a bright
Two years removed from a group that had 10 seniors and won 15 games, the 2009 squad is made up of mostly underclassmen but with experienced upperclassmen peppered in.
“I am really excited about this group because we have a really good team bond,” Palisade coach Steve Moore said. “This group is tight and in the long run that will benefit us.”
The Bulldogs are a melting pot of players.
There’s senior Jake Appling, who has been a part of the baseball program since he was a freshman and has three years of varsity experience. Appling will be look to play the outfield and pitch for the Bulldogs.
On the other side of that is a player like Tyler Alire, whose one-year growth spurt helped him jump from a junior varsity player to one of the main contributors on the varsity. Alire had two triples in the Bulldogs’ first game of the season against Elizabeth. He is the definition of an utility player, playing infield, outfield and taking turns on the mound.
“Tyler in one year got bigger and stronger,” Moore said. “He stepped up for us because he is a first baseman, but he volunteered to play right field when we were missing guys. I think he is going to be a better player as the season goes on.”
The Bulldogs’ more experienced players include sophomores Pete Lelich and Tucker Barnes and juniors Jesse Brannon and Drew Clinkingbeard.
On the mound, Palisade will have good depth with Appling, Alire, Brannon, Riley Josey and Jordan Salazar.
The Bulldogs appear to have the physical talent, but for Moore, the key will be developing the team’s mental talents.
“Mental errors are a big part of baseball and we made a lot against Elizabeth,” Moore said.
“Physical errors I can understand because we are still raw, but the mental errors, they have to go away.”
It’s been 40 years since Palisade last won a state championship in baseball. But to get to the big stage, the Bulldogs will first have to compete in the Western Slope League. Palisade looks to challenge for the WSL title with Delta and Moffat County.
Moore said the Bulldogs’ starting lineup is far from set in stone. Palisade has more than a week off before its first league game against Eagle Valley.
“I am still evaluating,” Moore said. “I want to let these kids play a couple of different positions so I can evaluate them before we start our league play.”