Fruita flowing with talent at many positions
Most teams like to set benchmarks at the beginning of the season projecting what the group wants as a final result.
For the Fruita Monument baseball team, one could assume its goals might involve a championship of the Southwestern League variety and possibly even more.
But second-year coach Ray McLennan said the Wildcats don’t have a certain amount of games they want to win or individual accolades they want to receive. For McLennan, it’s much more simple than that.
“These guys are high school kids and I think it is more important that we build chemistry and have a good attitude,” McLennan said. “You play today’s game and that is it. That is the way we have approached it.”
The Wildcats are more than a cohesive team, they are a stacked team. You name it, the Wildcats have it. Pitching, defense, hitting, Fruita is coming off a summer where it won 26 games and began the 2009 campaign with a 2-0 record in the Bill Fanning Classic, scoring a combined 24 runs in two games. The Wildcats followed up the hot start with a 10-2 win at Centaurus.
“We want to try and establish ourselves as being competitive and establish ourselves as a team that is going to come out and play,” McLennan said. “We have a lot of guys we can plug in and we are excited about the skills everyone brings to the table.”
Fruita had a relatively successful 2008 season, finishing 9-9, but lost in the first round of the playoffs. The Wildcats strung together an eight-game winning streak after losing their first five games, but they also dropped four of their final five.
“The one thing we have with this team now is maturity,” McLennan said. “The big thing this year is we haven’t been surprised. In our first two games, teams have beaten us with certain plays but we understand there is a next play. They have been there before and it is you may beat us once but you won’t fool us twice.”
The Wildcats start with 11 seniors, including returning All-Southwestern League players Rex Clemons, Brackett Mays and Cody Bell. Junior Ryan Mixon was also an all-league player last season.
Fruita also has players like JJ Russo, TJ Pollock, Alex Mende, Shannon Reynolds, Cody Rahmann, Taylor Rahmann and David Witsken who all contribute on offense and defense.
Bell is one of the more versatile players for the Wildcats, playing third base, outfield and taking his turn on the mound. He said the Wildcats are a team playing with a lot of confidence right now.
“Without a doubt we have the ability and talent this year,” Bell said. “This is our season and we have confidence and we know we can play ball with the best.”