The 2019 version of the Woodland Park High School baseball team will be a mix of veterans and talented up-and-comers.
Head coach Neil Levy, in his fourth season, has three returning starters on the roster: senior catcher Michael Shrum (.324 batting average, 16 RBIs last season), senior second baseman Lou Levy (.391) and senior outfielder Caleb Elliott (.289).
Three other players saw significant playing time last year: junior infielder Zak Ludwick (.200), junior outfielder Joey Babin (.222) and sophomore infielder Matthew Lecky (.179).
Sophomore Cameron Chase (12 at-bats last season) figures to be in the outfield mix, while junior Garrett Richardson (one plate appearance last season) figures to see time behind the plate.
Neil Levy said that another sophomore, Trace Taranto, has a great chance of earning a starting first base job. The lefty was one of the top players on the school’s hockey team.
“We have a great group of kids,” said Neil Levy, who is also the city’s mayor and owner of Swiss Chalet. “Our varsity kids get along well, and they’re excited to get after it.”
The first official day of practice was Feb. 25. Snow, ice and cold forced the Panthers indoors, where they are practicing in the gymnasium.
“Hopefully we can get outside so our pitchers can throw some long toss,” Neil Levy said.
For the first time in a long time, Woodland Park will not field a C-squad team. Only 19 players were signed up by the first day of practice.
Last month, Woodland Park added an unofficial member to its team in former Colorado Rockies outfielder Ryan Spilborghs. He spoke to the Panthers for about an hour. Under the direction of Help the Needy CEO Vince Scarlata, Spilborghs was presented with his personalized Woodland Park jersey.
Spilborghs was in town to help with the HtN Sweetheart Ball. HtN paid $100 for the jersey as a thank you to Spilborghs for helping with the Sweetheart Ball.
The Panthers — less Spilborghs — will head to Phoenix later this month to play four games in the Greenway Festival from March 25-28. The Panthers will play teams from Arizona, New Mexico and Illinois. This marks the third consecutive year Woodland Park will play in the tournament.
“We’re excited to the get the chance to go outside and play against some good teams in Arizona,” Levy said. “Greenway is always a lot of fun.
Woodland Park was supposed to play a scrimmage March 4 in Fort Collins, but that was canceled due to unplayable conditions.
The Panthers are scheduled to open their season Thursday at home against Coronado, but Levy was trying to get that game moved as unplayable conditions existed at Meadow Wood Park.
“That’s the nature of baseball sometimes in Woodland Park,” Levy said. “But we’ll manage. The kids work hard. We’ll make it work.”