The crack of the bat and pop of the glove returns tonight for the Laramie Rangers. Their 2016 season debut is in Cheyenne.

Laramie faces defending state champ Post 6 in a single, 9-inning contest starting at 5:30 p.m. from Powers Field.

Brandon Ruckman is in his second year as manager of the Laramie Rangers. He knows it’s going to be a tough opening game.

“Cheyenne’s a good team, and that’s kind of an interesting first game for us, but I think the kids are ready; they’re excited… it’s just a lot of anticipation at this point.”

Ruckman added he likes playing a tough opponent right away to provide them a sense of where they are.

“It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. This will be a good starting point, you know, set the bar for us, and then see how much we progress over the season.”

Laramie went 22-25 a year ago. They return eight regulars from that squad and ten players with varsity experience. Of those, seven have starting experience.

The Rangers are led by Harrison Yates, who is a returning second-team All-State player. He hit .371 with 34 runs batted in. Half of Yates’ 46 hits last year were extra-base hits.

Also returning are 19-year olds Marshall Stuart and Treyven Armijo. Other veterans that are back include Albert Steiner, Blake More, Wes Yerty, Cameron Campbell and Reid Baty, who was injured most of last season. Also, Logan Pickard and David Coulthard split time between the JV Deputies and the Rangers.

Add in the return of Taylor Dodd, who didn’t play last season, but has two years varsity experience, and the Rangers have 11 players with varsity involvement.

Ruckman is excited about a veteran team.

“I feel good about everybody coming back. I mean, they know the system. They know what we’re doing. I’m glad to have all of them back.”

Laramie lost three players from last season, but a bigger concern is numbers for Ruckman.

“We don’t have the depth that I would like. We’re sitting at 12 players right now, but who I have, I’m excited to get going with.”

An area of concern is pitching going into this season, as there players Laramie lost from last year were the Rangers top pitchers.

After the game at Cheyenne Wednesday night, Laramie is scheduled for a doubleheader on Sunday at Douglas. Their 2016 home debut is next Tuesday, May 10 versus Cheyenne Post 6.