TORRINGTON – Torrington Legion baseball coach Kyle Nighswonger took the Tigers back to the basics this spring in hopes of returning the program to its winning ways.
“They had a tough year last year, but we are looking to build off of that,” he said. “I’ve coached a lot of these boys before several years ago. We knew we had a solid, good core and figured if we put in the time and effort, we could work it back.”
After seeing the season come to an end with a winless trip to the state tournament in 2018, the Tigers are a year older despite having no seniors on the roster this season.
“We aren’t nearly as young as we were last year,” Nighswonger said. “We’ve harped on the fundamentals and getting back to the basics this year. We want to make routine plays routine. The great plays will come, but as we get into it, it will certainly play itself out.”
Nighswonger is confident the team is heading in the right direction heading into the season opener.
The Tigers have been hard at work with practices and offseason workouts since January, and they open the 2019 schedule Sunday at 1 p.m. against the Gillette Rustlers, jumping straight into conference play to begin the season.
“We are getting there,” Nighswonger said. “There are a lot of things to improve on and things to work on and focus on, but we are certainly improving. There is a long way to go, but until that first game comes around, you really never know where you are at.”
The Rustlers come into Sunday’s doubleheader at Dean Bullock Field with nine games under their belts.
“We are going to have to be on top of our game from the very get-go,” Nighswonger said. “Playing Gillette is never easy no matter when you face them, whether it’s the first game of the year or your last game of the year.”
In 2019, the ‘A’ level of Legion baseball did away with the district tournament, meaning the top four teams from the East and West Conferences move straight to the state tournament. The format change makes it all the more important the Tigers get off to a good start.
Conference games will be the norm for the Tigers this season with Gillette, the Cheyenne Hawks, Laramie Deputies, Wheatland Lobos and the Douglas Cats.
“We have a lot of games and they all matter. We don’t have a whole lot of non-conference games,” Nighswonger said. “It’s not one of those things where you can squeak your way by until districts. You have to come out right from the beginning.”
Highlighting the Tiger home schedule will be the Dean Bullock Tournament which will be held on May 31-June 2.
“Rob (Mortimore) and I talked, and we wanted to get a tournament here,” Nighswonger said. “We wanted people to come out, support the team, see them in action and get some home games with some teams we might not normally play.”
That weekend, the Tigers will see Centaurus High School out of Lafayette, Colo., Laramie’s AA squad and the Wheatland Lobos.
“Our stadium is named after Dean, and we wanted to do something to honor him,” Nighswonger said. “We are going to go out and compete our hearts out and see how we do against some higher-level competition.”
That could bode well for the Tigers as they look to return to the ‘A’ Legion State Tournament in Douglas on July 30-Aug. 3.
“I’m pretty confident that we are getting better and moving in the right direction. I’m looking forward to the leadership that I’m expecting from the older group,” Nighswonger said. “We’ve been going for months now, so we’re excited to see how it all plays out.”
2019 Torrington Tigers `A' schedule
May 12 vs. Gillette ‘A’ 1/3 p.m.
May 14 vs. Sidney, Neb. 6 p.m.
May 21 vs. Douglas 6/8 p.m.
May 28 at Cheyenne 5/7 p.m.
May 31-June 2 Bullock Tourney
May 31 vs. Laramie ‘AA’ 6:30 p.m.
June 1 vs. Centaurus 3:30 p.m.
June 1 vs. Laramie ‘AA’ 6 p.m.
June 2 vs. Wheatland 4:30 p.m.
June 5 vs. Laramie 5/7 p.m.
June 8 at Gillette 1/3 p.m.
June 12 vs. Cheyenne 5:30/7:30 p.m.
June 18 at Douglas 5:30/7:30 p.m.
June 21-23 at Ranger Classic
June 27 vs. Wheatland 5/7 p.m.
June 30 at Gering, Neb. 1/3 p.m.
July 10 vs. Spearfish, S.D. 5/7 p.m.
July 12-14 at Douglas Tourney
July 17 at Wheatland 5/7 p.m.
July 24 at Laramie 5/7 p.m.
July 30-Aug. 3 at State in Douglas
Aug. 8-11 at Northwest Nationals in Cody
Home games in bold