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State baseball postponed; 1st round game moved to tonight; 7 pioneers on all-district teams

The Powell Pioneers celebrate Bryce Wright’s three-run home run against Casper July 24 at the North District Tournament in Cody. Powell begins the state tournament today (Thursday) against Laramie in Laramie. The tourney was scheduled to begin Wednesday but heavy rains postponed it one day. The Powell Pioneers celebrate Bryce Wright’s three-run home run against Casper July 24 at the North District Tournament in Cody. Powell begins the state tournament today (Thursday) against Laramie in Laramie. The tourney was scheduled to begin Wednesday but heavy rains postponed it one day. Tribune photo by Dante Geoffrey

The first round of the 2014 American Legion Single A State Baseball Tournament was postponed until today (Thursday) due to rainy weather in Laramie.

The Powell Pioneers will begin their bid for a state title today at 7 p.m. against the host Laramie Rangers. The game was originally scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The schedule change threw a few wrenches into Powell’s plans, some good, some bad.

The worst potential effect will occur if the Pioneers play their best Thursday through Saturday.

Three Pioneers players are members of The Church of Latter-day Saints and do not traditionally play on Sunday, now the day of the championship game.

If Powell were to make it that far it could be without two of its top players. Left fielder and leadoff hitter Zander Andreasen brings a .400 batting average and a team-high .567 on-base percentage into the state tournament. Center fielder Brendon Phister is also batting .400 and is second on the team with a .532 OBP. Phister’s 31 stolen bags is the most of any Pioneer and Andreasen’s 22 bags are third.

The availability of both Andreasen and Phister for a Sunday showdown is up in the air.

“It kind of messes with us a little bit,” said Powell manager Jason Borders from the team bus headed to Laramie.

But the extra day off also provides some welcome rest for tired arms near the end of the season.

“Cory (Heny) will get another day before he throws against Green River,” Borders said. “(Grady Sanders’) arm is hurting, sore.”

Green River is the South’s top seed and the favorite to win its first-round matchup with Casper.

Sanders is probable to start Powell’s third tournament game.

Matt Brown will likely be used in a middle- or long-relief role, a job at which he excelled at the North District Tournament in Cody last weekend.

“I think (the rest) will help, but their pitchers are getting extra rest too,” Borders said.

Not every pitcher wants to wait to throw, however.

“It’s going to drive (Ty) Whiteman crazy,” Borders said.

Whiteman will start against Laramie today.

Now with an extra day and night in Laramie, the Pioneers will have time to kill before their evening start time.

“We’ll take them to eat and probably go to the Brown and Gold store ... watch some games,” Borders said.

The team had scheduled batting cage time for Wednesday night and planned to practice again Thursday morning.

“Usually we do [practice] when we’re on the road,” Borders said. “We’ll get in and take some ground balls and hit.

“I’ll probably let them sleep in the morning, get them up and feed them then go hit.”

Seven Pioneers on

All-District list

Three Powell Pioneers were named to the All-District North first team Monday.

Hayden Cragoe, Heny and Phister were honored for their effort and gaudy numbers put up during the 2014 season.

Cragoe led Powell with a 1.248 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) while hitting for a .396 average with five home runs, 32 RBI, 38 runs and 21 stolen bases. Cragoe started the season battling a shoulder injury and played first base, second base and left field before feeling healthy enough to resume playing shortstop.

Cragoe’s five home runs were second the team, behind Sanders’ six. Cragoe hit his in 50 fewer at-bats.

Heny put together another strong campaign in 2014, his final year as a Pioneer. He hit .408 with a 1.083 OPS, two home runs, 30 RBI and a team-high 48 runs. Heny was one of only two players to play in all of Powell’s 44 games. Heny played primarily shortstop and center field, but also played third base on occasion.

As a pitcher, Heny led the Pioneers in almost every category. His 2.47 ERA was far and away the lowest of Powell’s regular starters, and he posted that number in a team-high 56.2 innings pitched. Heny struck out 49 batters, which is tied for most on the team with Whiteman, and walked only 24, giving him the second-lowest walks-per-inning of any Powell pitcher who threw more than 30 innings.

Phister found himself on base more often than all but one Pioneer, and always looked to make the most of his opportunities. Phister led Powell with his .532 OBP and 31 stolen bases. He crossed the plate 41 times, more than any Pioneer other than Heny and Andreasen, and drove in 14 runs.

Four more Powell players were named to the North’s second team.

Bryce Wright, Andreasen, Sanders and Whiteman were all selected to the 13-man roster.

Wright made the team despite an injury-plagued season that limited him to just 53 at-bats in 17 games, but Powell’s first baseman made a big impact when he was healthy and in the lineup.

Wright batted a team-best .434 with two home runs, 21 RBIs and 15 runs scored in 61 plate appearances. He walked seven times and struck out just twice.

Andreasen was second on the team with 42 runs scored, which he earned by finding a way to get on base and into scoring position. The utility outfielder (Andreasen also spent some time at first base and catcher) led Powell with 30 walks (to just nine strikeouts) and a .567 OBP. Andreasen was often used to bunt when necessary and was a tool on the base paths for Borders.

Sanders started his season blazing hot and though he cooled down in July his final numbers still ranked among the team’s best.

The Pioneers’ third baseman led the team with six home runs and 49 RBIs. He hit .356 with a .424 OBP and .568 slugging percentage. Sanders was second with nine doubles and scored 26 times.

Whiteman was selected on the strength of his arm. His 49 strikeouts were tied for most on the team and his 54.1 innings pitched ranked second. Whiteman finished with a 4.51 ERA and 1.675 WHiP (walks plus hits per inning pitched). The right-hander’s 2-6 record wasn’t indicative of his effectiveness or value to the Pioneers in 2014.

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