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Dolores baseball swinging with confidence

Dolores sophomore TJ Adie rips a base hit in a game earlier this season for the Bears. (Ben Bradley /Special to the Journal)
Bears bats finding consistency as renaissance year draws to a close

DOLORES – If the first few weeks of the season were strictly about learning the fundamentals, the Dolores baseball team is starting to shift toward learning the finer points of the game.

The Bears (1-12-1) are attacking more at the plate and finding confidence, which they hope will carry the program forward through the final two weeks of the 2024 season and into a hopeful ascension to varsity play next spring.

A parade of underclassmen are seeing the ball better with each passing contest, and the numbers show the consistent improvement. After scoring 26 runs in a doubleheader against Nucla, the Bears compiled a pair of gritty performances at Joe Rowell Field on Thursday night, but lost 10-8 and 8-4 to Dove Creek.

Despite those two end results, the Bears generated an early lead in both games.

“Our guys are going up the plate looking to hammer the ball,” Bears coach Curtis Garver said of his team’s recent improvements. “The more they see that success, the more the confidence is going to keep growing.”

Freshmen Orin Samulski, Gus Vaughn, and Declan Warren each collected multiple hits in the opener, while classmate Levi Hampton got the start and scattered four hits. Unearned runs came back to bite the Bears, but their surging offense kept them in the game.

First-year Waylon Kiddoo scored a pair of runs, while brother Wyatt Kiddoo added two RBIs. The Bulldogs then took the lead in the late innings.

“I’ve been really impressed with a lot of our young guys like Waylon and Declan, they’re really starting to pick up the ball really well and show some leadership on the field as well,” Garver said. “It doesn’t matter what year in school they are, we’re needing these guys to take charge.”

It’s been the story of the season: Four of the top five Bears on the “hit list” have all been freshmen, led by Vaughn’s 11 on the season, with Hampton, Warren, and Kiddoo not far behind.

Sophomores TJ Adie and Jacob Stepp join the mix of Bears reaching base more than half the time, as Dolores has taken a more discerning eye at the plate. The Bears have improved their walk-to-strikeout ratio as the season has progressed.

On the hill, freshman Tucker Crites joins Vaughn and Hampton as the most frequently used arms by Garver.

“We’re still working on situational stuff, learning how to approach two-strike counts, but we’re getting there,” Garver said. “If these kids buy in, this is going to be pretty good team in the next couple years.”

The Bears close the season with contests against Montezuma-Cortez, Nucla and Ignacio. The game against Ignacio, scheduled for May 2, will be Dolores’ home finale.

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