More on the Grizzlies

So I’d been out of the sports writing game for a while before I took over for the estimable Alex Riley in January.

I worked as a copy editor and page designer for papers in Washington and Iowa, then edited University of Wyoming’s UWyo magazine down the road in Laramie before returning to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle in August 2011. By the time I moved over to writing, seven years passed since I had written sports on a regular basis.

I found an old baseball scorebook that I plan to use to chronicle this summer’s Cheyenne Grizzlies season, and the last entry was a game between Friday Harbor and Nooksack Valley (go ahead and giggle, I did every time I heard that name). So I last covered a baseball game in May 2007 when I lived in Washington.

Help me out, though – how many periods in a baseball game?

For today’s story on Landon Lybeck’s return to the diamond, I had a good but brief chat with Greg May, who buzzed around the yard at Pioneer Park like a guy the day before his team’s first game of the season.

He provided some nice insight into the goal for the Grizzlies this summer – or for any summer wood-bat team, really – beyond winning games.

“It’s a different experience for these kids because we have just 70 or 80 days to play as a team,” May said. “Our job is just to advance their skill sets. This is an environment where they can make mistakes in a low-stress environment and then take it back to school with them.

“We’d like people to come out and watch, but we understand winning games is a great marketing tool.”

The Grizzlies open today at Sterling, Colorado, the newest addition to the Mountain Collegiate Baseball League. The Xpress will play at Northeastern Junior College’s Plainsman Field, and today’s game starts at 6:35 p.m.

“This weekend we’ll take as scouting,” May said. “We’ll let them play a bit, and when we get back to town for the Casper series, we’ll start figuring out roles for these guys, especially which pitchers fit which roles.”

Also, Thursday’s interviews marked my first visit to Pioneer Park. I can’t say I’d ever seen an entire infield of field turf or sprint turf or however that particular surface is labeled. Every ground ball I saw the players field looked like a nice, true bounce, and Lybeck had no problem picking low throws off the turf.

Of course, that could owe to Lybeck’s skill at that particular aspect of playing first base. But the whole facility looks great, and I look forward to my first game there.

I like to think I helped one of the guys on the team. He was jonesing for some Cracker Barrel okra, so I directed him to the nearest Cracker Barrel – in Loveland, Colorado, along I-25. Travel safely, young man, and enjoy your lunch.

Dave Shelles is a sports writer for WyoSports. Contact him at deshelles@wyosports.net, follow him on Twitter @WTEDave