The Platte Canyon High School baseball squad will hit the field under the direction of new skipper Kelly Kirkpatrick for the 2019 season.
Kirkpatrick brings a wealth of high school and college coaching experiences to the position. He was previously the head coach at Mountain View College in Dallas, Texas from 2002-09. He also coached at Mead High School, and most recently spent two years at Conifer High School before accepting the head coaching position at PCHS.
Assistant coaches will be Bryce Schubert, Karl Egbert and Nick Bracknell.
“I am thrilled to be the new head coach at Platte Canyon High School, and I’m grateful for the opportunity,” Kirkpatrick said. “I am also fortunate to have an experienced, passionate group of assistants who will be a tremendous asset moving forward.”
Kirkpatrick takes over following the departure of former coach Chris Morris.
“Any time a team goes through a coaching change, some period of adjustment is usually required,” Kirkpatrick said.
“Coach Morris did an outstanding job during his time here, and has been very helpful during the transition. The kids have been incredibly receptive, and there is a genuine sense of excitement about the upcoming season.”
Returning from last year’s team will be seniors Bryce Schubert II, Gage Nelson, Josh Rummelhart and juniors Hunter Hewitt, Brandon Patterson. Jacob Despain, who primarily competed at the junior varsity level last season, is also returning.
Even though only five players return with varsity experience, the new coach looks forward to the challenge ahead.
“This team is not especially experienced, with just three seniors,” Kirkpatrick said. “Our pitching should be our strength, and the top part of the order should be pretty productive at the plate. Defensively, our infield is coming along nicely, but our outfield will be young and inexperienced. Grooming those younger players is obviously our most immediate priority.”
Three new players to the program, senior Colbe Kelly, junior Austin Hart and freshman Allan Hardey, should help to significantly bolster the lineup. The Huskies will also benefit from a deep and talented pitching staff with Hart, Hardey, Schubert, Nelson, Hewitt and Patterson all slated for time on the mound.
The Huskies will face stiff competition right out of the gate, travling to face the Colorado Academy Mustangs in their season opener March 7. The Mustangs mounted a run in the playoffs last season en route to an impressive 17-4 record.
“The first half of the schedule will be challenging, and we’ll find out where we are as a team pretty quickly,” Kirkpatrick said. “If we can hang in through the early part of the season and find our identity along the way, the latter part of the schedule could stack up okay for us.”
Bennett and The Academy have been the teams to beat in the Frontier League in recent years, and Platte Canyon has typically finished just behind them in the standings.
According to Kirkpatrick, players to watch include shortstop Brandon Patterson, first baseman Schubert, centerfielder and catcher Rummelhart, third baseman Hart, catcher and utility player Hewitt, senior outfielder Kelly, freshman middle infielder Hardey and senior utility player Nelson.
Serving as managers will be Amy Bezzant, Sevian Egbert and Heidi Sussenbach.