For the fourth time this season, and for the second day in a row, a doubleheader was called off due to weather. The 4-4 Pioneers have played only half of their scheduled games.
The missed contests will give the Pioneers a six-day layoff between games played. Powell last game was against the Billings Halos on Saturday, and the next won’t be until Friday when the Simpson/Barrus Memorial Tournament begins in Cody.
Head coach Jason Borders said that while the team would like to be playing, they could use the extra practice.
“At this point in the year it helped us,” Borders said. “We just need to get some things worked out and basically go back to basics. For a team as young as we are, I think it helps.”
The Pioneers have been plagued with spotty defense and wild pitching to start the season.
“It’s basically been (our) pitching walking people and errors that are the reasons we’ve lost. You cut those out and we could be 8-0 or 7-1,” Borders said.
Tuesday night’s practice was focused solely on defense. Outfielders worked on tracking fly balls and throwing while infielders worked on getting in front of ground balls and then watching the ball into their gloves.
The rain kept Powell at a total of only eight games played this season, (in comparison, the Cody Cubs have played 13 for a 7-6 record) but it also prevented the Pioneers from playing a grueling six games in four days and depleting an already thin pitching staff.
“We’re kind of disappointed we didn’t get to go but on the (other) hand we do get to save arms,” Borders said.
Unfortunately for Powell, it’s too late to save the right arm of 17-year-old pitcher Ty Whiteman, who Borders calls one of his most reliable starters. The team found out Tuesday that Whiteman will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the remainder of the season. He had already missed two weeks due to arm pain.
Borders said Whiteman plans to rehab and return to the mound next season.
“It’s just one more arm we don’t have. We don’t really have a well to go to as far as bringing anybody up,” Borders said.
For the short term Borders will use a six-man rotation/bullpen. Powell’s current pitchers are Matt Brown, Hayden Cragoe, Cory Heny, Grady Sanders, Frankie Vogt and Bryce Wright.
“We’ll try some kids at practice and see if they can throw. If they can, they will,” he said.
Powell’s tournament schedule: Friday – vs. Billings Angels, 2 p.m., vs. Lovell Mustangs, 4:30 p.m.; Saturday – Billings Halos, 5 p.m., Cody Cubs, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday – Angels, 3 p.m. All games are at Milward L. Simpson Stadium.