April baseball is a rarity in Wyoming, and nearly unprecedented in Riverton, but that changed Saturday when the Raiders hosted a combined team of Casper players at Roy Peck Field.
Players from the Casper Drillers, Oilers and Crush made the two-hour trek to Riverton replacing Jackson who was originally scheduled but couldn’t make the trip.
First year manager Wally Loftus saw good areas, and areas that need improvement in the Raiders.
“We came out swinging, we were aggressive, we got a few knocks in that first inning,” Loftus said. “I was happy with most of the at bats, they’re buying into what we’re trying to do.”
Casper has elaborate indoor facilities that allow players to practice through the winter, Riverton doesn’t have that luxury.
“We had just two outdoor practices, and some time in the gym,” Loftus said. “We have a lot of work to do on our pitching. We don’t have the facilities, they can’t throw, they can’t work through the winter, it’s to be expected I guess.”
A great crowd filled the stands on a near perfect April afternoon with cars lining the outfield. The players were a little nervous playing so early in the year, but the crowd, and the competition made it a fun environment.
“We made it through, we pretty much pitched everybody. We have three weeks until we go to Wheatland,” Loftus said. “We have our work cut out for us.”
Riverton hit the ball well, but so did Casper, and the Raiders put a lot of Casper players on base with walks.
“My biggest concern with the walks, comes a lull, our players bought right into that. It’s not the way we ‘re going to play Raiders baseball,” Loftus said. “We had a few errors but it’s not something I’m concerned about. Its Wyoming baseball, Casper has indoor facilities, and they played all winter. Overall I was pleased, minus the lack of enthusiasm in the middle innings.”
The forecast is for good weather this upcoming week, offering ample practice time.
“This week we’re going Monday through Friday. I told the guys to get ready to work really hard this week and get after it. Practice might extend a little bit,” Loftus said.