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Having started the 2011 season with an 18-4 win over Oak Creek School on Feb. 24, the Big Park Community School baseball team is more than ready to compete this spring.

the big park community school baseball team gets a run in during practice Monday, March 7.“I wasn’t sure what I was going to have this year,” Big Park Head Coach Matt Schumacher said at practice Monday, March 7. “I wasn’t sure about our pitching but I’m pleasantly surprised with that too. I think we’re going to have a good squad.”

Big Park was originally scheduled to play rival West Sedona School on March 1, but weather got in the way and the game has been rescheduled for Tuesday, April 5.

The Coyotes were in action Tuesday, March 8, at Camp Verde Middle School. Results were unavailable at press time.

Schumacher expects the 2011 season to go quite well for his Coyotes.

“We’ve got some ballers. The issue is how much time I’m going to be able to spend one-on-one with them to improve their skills. We have kids that look like they know what they’re doing,” Schumacher said.

Top Returners

Most of the Coyotes return from the 2010 team which should bode well for Big Park fans all around.

Eighth-grader Stefan Zielinski finds himself starting behind the plate this year and has excellent speed on the base paths. Zielinski could be the everyday leadoff man for the Coyotes.

Eighth-grader Joshua Hafner returns to play first base and should be in the cleanup spot in 2011 with his power bat while Michael Travaglia returns to play center field.

Left fielder Eddie Parrella returns, but missed most of 2010 with an injury and eighth-grade teammate Ricardo Machado is also back, and should see most of his playing time in the hot corner at third.

Top Newcomers

There are several kids who received some time at “A” ball last season and a few that have moved into town this year who should help the Coyotes win some games in 2011.

Seventh-grader Garrison Skornick is the top infielder for the Coyotes and will be the everyday shortstop for Big Park this spring.

“He’s our top infielder. He just has the look. He’s a wall at shortstop and is a balanced hitter,” Schumacher said.

Seventh-grader Austin Samano has made the team as well this year, having moved from Chicago over the summer.

Also moving into town is seventh-grader Keaton Burns. Burns is originally from Los Angeles and, according to Schumacher, he is a tremendous pitcher with good speed and control.

In the mix to be the No. 1 starter on the hill this season is sixth-grader Randy Rodriguez.

“Randy [Rodriguez] has great control and form. He has a strong curve ball when we need it,” Schumacher said.

Outlook

The Coyotes have the talent to go far this season, but the biggest question will be the defense and if it holds up during the 11-game schedule this spring.

Big Park is short a few games this year with Clarkdale-Jerome School canceling its season due to not enough players coming out for baseball.

Pine-Strawberry School doesn’t have a baseball squad either, shorting the Coyotes three games in 2011.

With the Verde Valley Athletic Association Small Schools Championships beginning Tuesday, April 19, Schumacher and his Coyotes will have plenty of time to work the kinks out.

Look for Big Park to challenge for the Small Schools title in April.


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