Middle Park High School basseball team clinches post-season berth
May 13, 2011
GRANBY – The Middle Park Panther baseball team has finished its regular season and is preparing for post-season play. The Panthers finished the regular season ranked 11th in the state with a record of 15-2-1.
Division play begins Saturday, May 14, in Hotchkiss. The Panthers will take on the Rifle Bears at 12:30 p.m. If the Panthers win, they will advance to the regional finals game at 3 p.m.
The winner will then proceed to the State Tournament the next weekend. This is a team goal as the Panthers have never made it to the Elite 8 Double Elimination Round of the State Tourney. Tune into the radio station KRKY 930 AM for the live broadcast Saturday.
“This is a young team with limited varsity experience, yet they are fundamentally sound,” said Middle Park Coach James Newberry. “Heading into division play, their dedication, hard work and love of the game are the attributes that not only got them to this point in the season, but will contribute to their continued success.”
Newberry went on to say, “This team makes a lot of contact at the plate. They’ve set a new school record with 19 total homeruns in regular season play. Rather than having a team sitting on the shoulders of a couple star players, this team is in it all together. To demonstrate how well balanced the team is: Out of the starting lineup, seven out of nine batsmen have hit home runs this season. These are just good kids who love baseball. They are fun to coach and watch play.”
Senior Mitch Franek is Middle Park’s team leader. The four-year letterman batted .512, with 26 RBIs, 4 HR, 3 triples, and has the most wins on the pitching staff. Sophomore Tyler Franek’s .585 batting average, 8 doubles, 1 triple, and 2 HRs leads the team’s offense. Tyler finished the season with 28 RBIs.
Cort Brennan and Connor Jennings also turned in great numbers. Brennan batted .558 with 5 home runs, 28 RBIs, and a slugging percentage of 1.058; in 52 bats he struck out only once. Jennings led the team in RBIs with 30, hit 2 HRs and batted an impressive .553. Lead-off batter Connor Dolan has an on-base percentage of .589 and a .511 batting average, both outstanding numbers for a No. 1 hitter.
Coltan Kissler turned in a solid performance at first base, batted a healthy .457, and added 6 doubles and a homerun. The number 9 hitter in the lineup, Adam Weaver, hit 2 home runs (one a walk off grand slam) and batted .413. AJ Sapian batted .714, Colby Marr .600, Bryndon Jackson .391 with 2 HRs, Cody Hartman hit .351, Johnny Stensvad .250, also contributed 1 homerun, Cody Garrett .250, and Karl Olson Deem’s .250 average rounded out the lineup.
Mitch and Tyler Franek, Cody Hartman, and Bryndon Jackson, carried the load pitching. Mitch ended the season 4-2, Tyler 3-0, Cody 3-0 and Bryndon 2-0-1. Johnny Stensvad and Connor Jennings also contributed a win a piece.
The wet spring threw the Middle Park spring bats a “curve ball,” forcing the rescheduling of almost the entire season. Clearly, the Panthers were up for the task, as they won nine of 10 games in their last two weeks of season play. Back-to-back game days that included many double-headers tested their endurance and stamina; never was a complaint heard, much to the pleasure of the coaching staff.
The experience this young team has gained this year has served them well and will carry them proudly into the playoffs and coming years.
“We do believe this fine group of young men are laying the foundation for a future baseball program based on Panther Pride,” said Newberry.
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