To erase a bad year, there must be a rebuilding year. Last season's 3-21 record caused Wood River's baseball program to head right to the chalkboard and get young.
And young is what Wood River is—so young that the team has only one senior, Austin Hafer, and he wasn't even on it last year. Hafer will try to exorcise 2011's demons and take the young team under his wing and help get the program back into its former winning ways.
"He's a great leader," said head coach Matt Nelson. "He wants good things to happen and wants to help keep the younger kids on track."
Hafer will split time between pitcher and centerfield, two main positions for a team leader. Holding players accountable for their play is something that Nelson appreciates from Hafer.
Last year's anemic season was so tough that when try-outs were open in late winter Nelson saw only a fraction of the number of prospective players that he usually does.
It was so bleak that Nelson could only put together a varsity team full of freshmen and sophomores. No junior varsity team. No additional arms and legs.
"I knew we were going to be short on players, but I didn't know it was going to be this small," he said.
There are nine underclassmen on the roster this year. But what could be tougher to overcome than just inexperience is the lack of in-game practice.
With almost an entirely new team, the stats of last season won't be hard to overcome. Wood River was just 1-5 at home and 2-16 on the road.
"All of the teams from last year will be just as good this year," Nelson said.
Wood River was 1-14 in league and ended the season on 14-game losing streak.
Founders Field in Hailey is still being tended to from the winter.
As the weather prohibits Nelson's squad from putting together a true situational scrimmage, or just to feel the soft grass on their cleats and dirt on their hands, Wood River must quickly gel as a team before its first game, which is today at Kimberly.
With a young team unable to see the field until this week, Nelson said he feels that Wood River's first games will be a great test of character.
"This is a tough match-up right out of the gates," Nelson said. "But this will be a great gauge of what we need to work on and what we're capable of."
2012 WRHS Baseball Schedule
A total 22 games on the regular-season schedule for the 2012 Wolverine boys' varsity baseball team; 7 home and 15 away. Of the 22 games, 15 are conference contests. All home varsity games at Founders Field, Hailey are listed in bold. Great Basin Conference games shown by an asterisk.
DATE, DAY OPPONENT, GAMES SITE, TIME
March 9, Friday Kimberly (1) Away, 3:30
March 10, Saturday Bishop Kelly (2) Boise, 11:00/1:30
March 15, Thursday Buhl (2) Away, 4:00/6:00
March 22, Thursday Canyon Ridge* (1) Twin Falls, 4:00
April 3, Tuesday Canyon Ridge* (2) Home, 3:00/5:00
April 6, Friday Jerome* (1) Home, 4:30
April 7, Saturday Jerome* (2) Away, 12:00/2:00
April 10, Tuesday Kimberly (2) Home, 3:00/5:00
April 13, Friday Burley* (1) Away, 4:30
April 14, Saturday Burley* (2) Home, 12:00/2:00
April 20, Friday Minico* (1) Home, 4:30
April 21, Saturday Minico* (2) Rupert, 12:00/2:00
April 26, Thursday Twin Falls* (2) "Sr. Day" Home, 3:00/5:00
April 27, Friday Twin Falls* (1) Away, 4:30
May 1, Tuesday Great Basin Conference 4A tourney Higher seed, 5:00
May 3, Thursday Great Basin Conference 4A tourney Higher seed, 5:00
May 5, Saturday Great Basin Conference 4A tourney Higher seed, 12:00
May 10, Thursday Great Basin 4A tourney placement Higher seed, 5:00
May 12, Saturday State 4A play-in game TBA
May 17, Thursday State 4A tournament Rodeo Park, Nampa
NOTE—The Great Basin Conference gets 1.5 berths in the state tournament, so the state play-in May 12 will match the GBC second-place team vs. the Boise-area third-place squad.