JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING (JHYB)
by Chris Moulder
Spring training has been underway for the hometown hero American Legion Jackson Giants since late February, but the lads from paradise have only as of this writing set foot on the Giants Field 2 times this spring.
The Giants will hit the road on Friday for Bozeman, Montana to face the single A Bozeman Spikes in a 9 inning matchup for their season opener. Then on Saturday, the Giants head west for 40 miles to Three Forks, MT, to face the Gallatin Valley Outlaws for (2) 7 inning games to round out the weekend.
This year’s late snowfall has hampered the Giants significantly with regard to running live action scenarios on the field such as running bases, hitting live pitching, judging fly balls, etc. Despite the late season outdoor start, the team looks surprisingly sharp and quick on their feet, particularly the returning members of the squad led by Grant Smith, Colter Huhn, Sky Garnick, Bryn Windle, and Lucas Moulder.
Rookies showing up for practice include Carlos Toledo, the dynamic duo; Ryan and Bryan Weber, Patrick Renz , Ethan Moulder, Ian Chapman, Paul Vik and newcomer Cord Schultz. Also showing up for practice are 2 great looking prospective swing players from the Jackson Babe Ruth League by the names of Christian Doyle and Dusty Treick. It doesn’t end there as there are a number of players not yet showing for practice who are still involved with either track or soccer for the High School like left handed hitter and second baseman, Cameron O’Donahue and returning after a 2 year hiatus to pursue questionable ventures is Jackson Bronc football and track stud Blane Woodfin. Robbie Caesar and Jack Maguire potential rookie sensations are running track as well. There are also a number of returning players who go to school outside of Jackson, Chucklin’ Charlie Keegan (pitcher, shortstop, second) should be joining the team in early June. Keegan, who is currently playing for his High School Varsity team at the Westminster School in Simsbury, Connecticut is proving he is something to be dealt with no matter where in the U.S. he plays. Charlie Wild (catcher, pitcher) is currently finishing up his freshman year at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming and should be back in mid May. Tim Shibuya (pitcher, shortstop, center field) is issuing K’s and taking names as a middle reliever for the University of California at San Diego Tritons in La Jolla, California. He currently leads the CCAA conference with an amazing 1.63 ERA.
Pitching this weekend should be interesting as a number of our starters are away for the first part of the season and when asked of Coach Pat Euart what his pitching rotation will be he simply said “Johnny Wholestaff”. Returning starting ace Lucas Moulder, the 6’-6” right-handed horse has been religious about his winter strength workout as well as his rookie brother Ethan. The older Moulder looked like he had a good snap and some giddyup while performing in a bullpen session. Bryn Windle also appears to have packed on some muscle and will also work his way into the rotation. Windle’s delivery seems to have worked itself into a smoother motion and he appears to hide the ball well. Grant Smith hurt his shoulder in last years Championship Jackson Bronc football season, so we may not see him deal from the mound in the early part of the year. Colter Huhn who suffered from almost the same injury last year has also been working on his strength over the winter and is confident that he will contribute good stuff from the mound. Sky Garnick, Jackson Hole High School Bronc star basketball player will also be delivering strikes from the mound.
The rookie group seems loaded with fantastic young pitching arms and should be able to give solid middle relief with the likes of Patrick Renz who has a developing curve and a sizzling fastball and is able to paint the corners. Then there are those crazy twins Ryan and Bryan Weber who combine for a phenomenal 1-2 knockout punch. Powerhouse Carlos “The Torpedo” Toledo and last years Jackson’s Babe Ruth Pitcher of the Year, Ethan Moulder will also add depth to the bullpen.
It’s going to be an exciting season and with the new lights that were installed night games will be back in the schedule and with the addition of sports announcing icons Danny and Mike Mayer giving their play by play at the games both home and away on KZ95, the baseball season should prove to be a fulfilling experience whether the fans can make the games or not. Let’s all make it a point to get to the ballpark and support our American Legion team this year and don’t forget the concession stand.
“The sport to which I owe so much has undergone profound changes…But it’s still baseball. Kids still imitate their heros on playgrounds. Fans still ruin expensive suits going after foul balls that cost five dollars. Hitting streaks still make the network news. And the hot dogs still taste better at the ballpark than at home.”
— Duke Snider