BOULDER — Jeff Erickson is a rising senior at Fairview that is champing at the bit to play significant varsity innings for the Knights baseball team in 2017-18.
While there were some juniors in the mix this past spring, an incredibly large number of seniors made up the FHS varsity squad ... meaning the process of rebuilding is essentially underway right now.
A little bit of inexperience has shown for the program's top summer team, known as the Old School Dirtbags, and the entirety of the Boulder National Invitational 19U Tournament has continued to pit the squad against some tough competition.
After dropping their two games on Wednesday, the Dirtbags had their pool play end Thursday with a single game, albeit forgettable on most levels. The Slammers Sheridan team they were facing pounded 11 hits and held the Dirtbags to just five in an 11-1 win.
Erickson is definitely optimistic of the future despite the results from this particular weekend.
"We have a lot of young talent, and we're really just trying to get ready for the (American) Legion tournament coming up in a week or so," Erickson said. "We've had some rough patches this summer, but we have faced some really stiff competition.
"This summer is huge for our pitching. It's hard because they didn't get any varsity innings this spring, so that learning curve is huge this summer. We're just trying to get any momentum we can."
The Dirtbags are carrying several graduated seniors that Erickson said are trying to keep the Fairview tradition alive under third-year coach David Castillo. Danny Sheridan, Jake Willemsen, Josh Haensly, Will Mossa, SJ Mousseau and Sam McGill are at the core of that leadership group.
But the future includes players like Erickson, Elliott Dineen, Ben Daecher and Logan McMinn among others.
"They're really trying to show us how to face and fight adversity," Erickson said. "Some guys might get hurt or might get into a slump, and the guys around are just trying to show us how to work through some of those things. Keeping an even mindset and trying to keep the emotions from going up and down depending on how you're playing."
Learning to put the past in the past is invaluable, and this tournament was one where the highlights were sparse. Haensly and Brett Jones each reached base twice on Thursday in the four-inning, mercy-rule shortened game, but a six-run third inning put all the energy in the Slammers Sheridan dugout.
Fairview's pool also included the NoCo Roughnecks and the Post 320 Stars from Rapid City — making it three opponents in two days that draw from a number of schools in their respective areas.
Fairview will host this year's Legion 'A' Elite state tournament coming up from July 26-29. Eight teams qualify for the tournament, with Fairview getting an automatic bid as host program.
Slammers Sheridan 11, Old School Dirtbags (Fairview) 1
At Fairview HS
Slammers Sheridan116 3 — 11 11 1
Dirtbags000 1 — 1 5 2
L — Decker.
Dirtbags hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Sheridan 2-0-0-0, Erickson 2-0-0-0, B. Jones 1-0-1-0, Willemsen 1-0-1-0, J. Jones 2-0-0-0, Haensly 2-1-1-0, McGill 1-0-1-0, McMinn 2-0-0-0, Carrigan 2-0-1-0, Casebolt 1-0-0-0. Totals 16-1-5-0.
Dirtbags pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Daecher 3-8-8-6-2-1, Dineen 1-3-3-3-2-1.