IHS’ trying doesn’t escape SJBL’s eyeing

Ignacio's Gabe Tucson receives further instructions from head coach Don Hayes after reaching third base during SJBL action against Dove Creek in 2019. After a strong freshman season, Tucson was recently named Second Team All-League.
Ignacio's Cesar Pedregon dances off second base during SJBL action against Dove Creek during the 2019 season. Stationed in the outfield, infield and on the pitching mound at different times this spring, Pedregon was recently named First Team All-SJBL as a 'utility' player.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

Junior, freshman receive All-League nods

As young as the 2019 Ignacio Bobcats were, it came as no surprise first-year head coach Don Hayes’ lineup creativity was tested game in, game out.

Save for third base (manned by lone remaining senior Rendon Mestas) and catcher (sophomore Lawrence Toledo), with another possible exception at shortstop (sophomore Holland Roukema), positions were more or less up for grabs depending on practice performance, injury, and other outside circumstances.

And as the season progressed to a point where IHS went into action with just one or two available reserves, there was an elevated probability that players would see time at multiple spots game in, game out.  Which, considering again how young the ’Cats (1-14 overall) were, wasn’t a bad thing.

Junior Cesar Pedregon was a prime example, having seen action in the outfield—particularly after speedy senior Joe Herrera elected to give track-and-field a go this spring, and sophomore Dylan Labarthe was lost to injury—and infield (SS/3B) and on the mound, where he was the winning pitcher-of-record in the squad’s lone victory.

“I wish we’ve got more of them,” he said, following the 4-3 defeat of Dove Creek on April 23, “but…. You know, we’re a learning group and we’re just ready for whoever’s next.”

“Like, they told me today that I was going to start,” he recalled, “and I just got so much intensity; I was ready.  My mind was all about pitching.  I just…decided to throw my hardest and I guess it paid off.”

Willing to learn from his mistakes—his eager, fast-moving approach on the hill led to several balk infractions due to not coming fully set before committing towards home plate—during his first true varsity campaign, Pedregon’s versatility helped earn him First Team All-San Juan Basin League as a ‘utility’ player.

Freshman Gabe Tucson, meanwhile, established himself as Ignacio’s starting first baseman in ’19, and in addition to possessing a potent left-handed bat offensively, became a well-used lefty pitching option—first as a relief choice, then later as a starter.  But primarily due to his infield glove-work, he was named Second Team All-SJBL.

Led by Player-of-the-Year Will Gabriel, Nucla—which reached the Class 1A State Championship, but lost 4-3 to Westminster Cornerstone Christian—led the loop with five First Team selections (catcher J.D. Brantingham, designated hitter Cael Spangler, infielder Tyler Wytulka, outfielder Jace Sinks, and Gabriel—as a pitcher) and one Second Team-er (outfielder Sammy Puderbaugh).

NHS’ Randy Gabriel received Coach-of-the-Year distinction after the Mustangs finished 16-6.

 ADDITIONAL FIRST TEAM ALL-SJBL BASEBALL PICKS

Dove Creek (12-9)—infielder Ty Smith, outfielder Gauge Thompson, pitcher Hayden Gray, pitcher Branson Smith; Dolores (13-7)—infielder Kevin Purkat, infielder Dakota Smith, outfielder Brennan Hite, outfielder Isaiah Knox.

ADDITIONAL SECOND TEAM ALL-SJBL BASEBALL PICKS

Dove Creek—infielder Triston Jarmon; Dolores—catcher Cael Schmittel, outfielder Colton Shaffer, pitcher Cameron Chavez.

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