For most associated with Fort Collins-area high school sports, the torrents of spring snow were a pain in the butt.
For the Fossil Ridge High School baseball team, all that white stuff was a kick in the pants.
The SaberCats started their season 1-8, but finished 7-3. How does that happen?
“Well, truthfully, the snow,” Fossil Ridge coach Mark Findley said. “We were just struggling. Then the snows hit, and it allowed us to regroup and just kind of begin the season all over again.”
That snow forced Fossil Ridge inside, and it forced the SaberCats to come to terms with the loss of star shortstop Hunter Donaldson, who injured his throwing arm in a freak accident in practice. It also forced Fossil Ridge to reflect on just what its season had become — a mess.
“I’ve got to give credit to our kids,” Findley said. “Our kids just really embraced the challenge. The kids just decided amongst themselves that they were going to do this. They were going to get it done.”
The challenge propelled Fossil Ridge to the district playoffs Saturday when the No. 27 seed SaberCats (8-11) play No. 6 ThunderRidge (14-5).
Beyond the kids rallying, the SaberCats needed to do some replacing. Enter Julian Garcia, a center fielder and closer turned starting pitcher and lights-out hitter. Garcia finished the league season 2-1 with a 1.20 earned run average, striking out 45 in 23 innings. And where Donaldson was hitting .400 to lead the SaberCats, Garcia has one-upped that, batting .510 with 26 hits, including eight for extra bases and 14 RBIs.
“Offensively, he hasn’t missed a beat,” Findley said. “He’s our guy. He’s taken up where Hunter Donaldson left off.”
It might not have been possible for Garcia or the SaberCats if they hadn’t had the chance to hit the reset button on their season.
Now that they have, Findley said he thinks Fossil Ridge will be dangerous in the playoffs.
“People are going to look at our 8-11 record and go, ‘Oh well, look they had a losing season,’ ” Findley said. “Hopefully, we can sneak up on a couple of people, get a couple of wins and move onto the next round.”
Tyler Silvy covers prep sports for The Coloradoan. Reach him via email at TylerSilvy@ coloradoan.com or by phone at (970) 589-3829. Connect with him at Facebook.com/ ColoradoanTylerSilvy or @TylerSilvy on Twitter.