|Senior Zac Cloward is one of the key members of the Carbon Dinos pitching corp this season.|
Last season the Carbon High baseball program was a lot like Rodney Dangerfield; they couldn't get any respect.
From the beginning of the season until just before the end, the upstate media continually ranked them second in the state to Snow Canyon no matter who they beat and how long they went undefeated.
So go figure. When the rankings for all the school divisions came out this week, the 3-3 Dinos were ranked number one in 3A, despite the loss to Park City last Friday on Carbon's home field. Park City, incidentally was ranked second in the state.
They incumbents are hard to unseat in elections, but more often than not in sports schools don't win titles two years in a row. But this years team probably deserves the nod, after playing what is probably the toughest preseason schedule of any school in the state.
First of all they played and placed second in the Pizza Hut Classic a couple of weeks ago, losing in the end to Tooele. While the Buffaloes are ranked in the top five in 3A, they are no pushovers either.
Next they lost to Spanish Fork, presently ranked as the number one team in 4A with a 5-0 record.
Then of course they were defeated by Park City in the battle of the hurlers last Friday 1-0.
The reason for the high ranking? There are lots of them, beside the tough schedule.
The team has a great pitching staff from top to bottom. Best of all, the youngest player on the team may be the best pitcher. Last year coach Lane Herrick called on Brady Martinez to close games out. He very well could call on Troy Grundy to do that this year. But after his duel with Brandon Rogers of Park City last Friday, he might just start a lot this season.
Second, they have good fielders both inside the baselines and beyond. Errors are not much of a problem with this team.
Third, while they haven't woke up from their long winters slumber yet, this team has the potential to one of the best batting teams in the history of the school. The loss of stalwarts of last season to graduation, has not diminished the ability of this team. If these batters play up to their potential, pitchers from opposing teams will fear facing any part of the Carbon batting order.
The preseason is almost over. The last games will be played this weekend and then the season begins with Lehi, new to Region 8 this year starting off the regular slate on Monday afternoon on the Dinofield at 3 p.m.
However, first things first. Carbon travels to Montrose, Colo. this weekend for the Lloyd McMillan Memorial Baseball Tournament. This tournament has two brackets with a Utah team in each.
Bracket one includes Glenwood Springs High School, Durango High School and Lake wood High School from Colorado. It also includes Emery High School.
The other bracket includes Montrose High School, Aspen High School and Manual High School. This is also the bracket Carbon is in.
In the first game on Friday Carbon will play Manual one of the smaller (student population wise) schools in the Denver Public School System with 1100 students. They have lost their only preseason game 7-4 to Conifer High School of Jefferson County.
The chances of facing Emery in this tournament are small. Both teams would have to follow the exact same win-loss pattern in their brackets to meet at any point.
On Saturday Carbon will meet either the winner or loser (depending on how they do) of the Montrose-Aspen High game.
Currently Montrose is one of the top 5A schools in Colorado with a 3-0 preseason record and they lead the Southwestern Conference standings in that division.
Aspen on the other hand has not played any games yet. They are a 3A school in the Western Slope Conference Standings.
In Colorado there is no 1A classification so all the divisions are a little different from the ones in Utah. Schools ranked as 5A take in what would be part of 4A in Utah, 4A take in part of what would be 3A and so on down the line. The Dinos should do well in this tournament.