The home debut for the Laramie Rangers in 2021 will be on Saturday when they host the Sterling Tigers in a doubleheader at Cowboy Field.

Laramie is off to a 1-2 start after three games last weekend in Cheyenne. They beat the Cheyenne Hawks 17-10 on April 17 at Pioneer Park in a single 9-inning game. Then, on Sunday, April 18, the Rangers lost a pair of close non-conference games against Cheyenne Post Six. The final score in game one was 5-4, while the nightcap was 7-5. Laramie had leads in both games.

Rangers’ manager Aaron Lozano said it was about what we expected, especially our performance at the plate.

“They looked like a bunch of guys who have only been in a (hitting) cage and seeing their first (live) pitching. Cheyenne, particularly those last two games, switching out pitchers every two innings, just getting their guys work, was a little tough on these guys, but they put up runs, and they kept it close.”

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On the flip side, Lozano was really pleased with his team’s pitching.

“I really felt like our pitchers did a good job throwing strikes and keeping us in the game. Even Brandon Chavez gives up a big bomb, and he came right back and threw a fastball down the middle to the next guy, like, hey, we’ll see if you can do that too. I really like that attitude, just to come out challenge guys and throw strikes.”

Laramie finished 27-26 last year but went 0-2 at the state tournament with a pair of 1-run losses. They lost three seniors off the 2020 squad.

Lozano’s squad this year is still on the younger side, but it is a veteran group. After carrying 18 players on their roster during last year’s COVID season, there are 14 on the Rangers ‘AA’ roster in 2021. Twelve of those 14 players were part of the 2020 team.

Two of them are seniors Ryan Chamberlain and Aidan Morris. Both were second-team all-state last summer. KOWB’s David Settle spoke to the pair about the start to the season last weekend, plus what’s different about the 2021 team, how this season might go, and looking forward to the home opener.

Lozano looks at his team early and feels they must improve their mental approach at the plate.

“(We have) a lot of picky hitters up there with two strikes. If you look at the stats, I think we struck out 16 times against the Hawks, and another 17 or something like that, the next day in the doubleheader against Post Six. I think that mental approach is what’s lacking and that could be from just being in the cage. They don’t hit real bad pitches in the cage a lot.”

A strength he feels is the team’s speed.

“You go one through nine in our lineup, and we’ve got about seven guys that steal bases, that can cover a lot of ground. If you look at Aidan Morris’ stats from the weekend, I think he beat out three balls in the infield, so that team speed, I think, is going to be a big advantage for us.”

Defensively, Lozano added that they’re trying some things out, particularly when Chamberlain is pitching, but he believes they have a solid core.

From a pitching standpoint, he feels everyone is still getting in “baseball” shape.

“For them to go out and throw strikes the way they did, in the cold the way they did, that was super-encouraging to me. Once these guys get in shape they’re going to really be a boon to the pitching staff.”

He likes the way guys can come in and give a few innings and just throw strikes over the plate.

Lozano added, “I think Ryan Chamberlain’s one of the premier pitchers in the state and that’s exciting.”

With the home debut on Saturday against Sterling, CO, Lozano thinks it’s awesome to be playing this early.

“We definitely didn’t play in April, right? We didn’t play until June last year, and I think it’s just bringing a sense of normalcy back, and to be out on Cowboy (Field). I know Mike Malloy and the city crew are really happy to be fixing up the baseball field, and they’ve been doing a great job for softball. It’s just exciting to be at home and get some games in.”

The twin bill is at 2 and 4 p.m. on Saturday from Cowboy Field. KOWB will broadcast the home opener in Game 1 of the doubleheader. Coverage will start at 1:45 p.m. on AM 1290 or the KOWB app.

 

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