The erosion of the identity of summer baseball hasn’t gone unnoticed by newly named Evergreen varsity head coach Steve Jones. A former assistant coach under Terry Hensley years ago and a former pitching coach at Colorado Christian University, Jones understands the importance of players getting scouted to better their future.
However, he also knows that Evergreen is a baseball community, and it’s vital to keep that continuity together, especially after the success the varsity team enjoyed under interim coach Dale Hutchings in 2014. That, and the wealth of help from former alumni, showcased a summer season that Jones hopes is only the beginning for continued success.
Jones, who didn’t coach for Evergreen this summer due to a previous commitment to serve as a pitching coach in the collegiate summer league, oversaw a program that produced three teams, including a U-14 developmental Level III squad coached by former player Sam Grise.
No team, however, enjoyed as much success as Evergreen’s U-15 — junior varsity level — squad. Under the coaching of 2012 EHS graduate Jake Spicer, the team not only went 5-1 to finish second in the prestigious Mert Letofsky Memorial Tournament, but it also was second in the double-elimination state tournament. Both of its losses there came to eventual champion Brighton.
“I think everybody is getting along and everybody is playing as a team. They all seemed to be having fun with it,” said Spicer, who coached the team to a 28-10 overall mark, including 11-3 in league play.
Jones also was pleasantly surprised by the U-16 — varsity — team’s success under Hutchings, considering not only the graduation of five players, but the loss of six more to teams playing in the Denver metro area.
“I was a little concerned when you graduate that many players. Then you have six really good players go down the hill. What’s it going to be?” said Jones, who is Evergreen’s fourth head coach since Hensley left after the 2011 season to take the athletic director position at Green Mountain High School in Lakewood. “But we had some kids step up all summer. As it turned out, it worked out quite well. It allowed some kids who might not have gotten much playing time ordinarily to get a lot of playing time.”
The U-16 squad went 9-3 in league play and made it to the final day of the AABC Tournament.
Jones is aware that if players want to get to the next level, they have to get out and be seen by scouts. They have to compete at a higher level. That’s a culture he hopes to develop in Evergreen over time.
“I don’t fault the parents for doing that. I took my kid on a showcase circuit myself,” Jones said. “I just strongly believe that we can do that through Evergreen High School baseball, Evergreen summer baseball and Evergreen fall baseball.”
The emphasis, he said, is on keeping players in Evergreen and making a real competitive baseball opportunity for them.
“Evergreen is such a unique place. We’ve got a beautiful ballpark, and it’s cool up here in the summer. There are a lot of good reasons why this should be an avenue for the best players,” Jones said.
Contact Michael Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.