|Written by Brian Bergner|
|Wednesday, 02 March 2011 00:00|
In a sense, the Camp Verde High School baseball team is starting over in 2011.
This spring, the Cowboys will have a completely different look to them than a year ago at this time, having lost five seniors to graduation — all of them starters.
Two of those startersm pitcher Curtis Hawk and shortstop and team captain Mike Boler, will be sorely missed in 2011.
Both were All-Region nominees, while Boler received an All-State vote or two. But the two were so much more than that.
The five starting seniors led the Cowboys to a 21-8 season in 2010, eventually finding themselves in the 2A conference state championship game against Bourgade Catholic High School.
At the Peoria Sports Complex, the Cowboys fought hard, but the 2010 season came to an end with Bourgade Catholic celebrating a state championship.
At the time, first-year Camp Verde Head Coach Steve Hicks said no one expected the Cowboys to be in this position in the first place. And he would be right.
Turning the page on the 2010 season and looking at 2011, Hicks again thinks nobody believes in his boys.
“We hope to surprise a few people. There’s no doubt in my mind we can get there,” Hicks said in an interview Saturday, Feb. 26. “We could challenge for a title. We have a few questions on our team, just like we did last year. The boys made it a goal to get better every day last year, and this year’s group has the same attitude.”
Although many positions are unclear for the Cowboys in the early going, a few kids have solidified their spots from last year’s state championship run.
Senior Tanner Rezzonico should see most of his time at first base, or on the mound this season while junior Cody Rayburn should be the everyday guy in center field.
Junior Andy Minner will be behind the plate once again in 2011 and junior Gavin Collins will be one of the top pitchers for the Cowboys this spring.
Collins only pitched in 2010, but should see time in the outfield this year as well.
Senior Austin Bower returns as part of the starting rotation, and should be at shortstop when not pitching.
Sophomore Jesse Fullbright will add to Hicks’ starting rotation this year, giving the Cowboys four solid pitchers entering the 2011 season.
Sophomore Kyle Lobaugh could be at third base this season while sophomore Austin Stutzman will be in the outfield somewhere, and share time at first base.
Junior Andrew Teague didn’t play much in 2010 and should be a utility man this season while senior Jake Williams will be in the infield after missing 2010.
Hicks believes his team can compete but he’s concerned about the pitching.
“One of our questions is can our pitching hold up. If not, we’ll struggle. We hope the four pitchers we have will carry us through, and I think they can,” Hicks said.
Although the Cowboys may not reach the state championship game this season, it will be a fun team to watch. If all comes together, however,
it could be the Cowboys standing alone atop the podium in May.
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