GREAT FALLS – The Great Falls Chargers begin the 2018 season coming off a year that saw the team’s first state tournament appearance since 2013.
Great Falls is already off to a great start this year, easily sweeping Gallatin Valley in a doubleheader at Centene Stadium during opening weekend. The team also has a new skipper, Tony Forster, and the players are already getting locked in behind his leadership.
“I think honestly this year is probably going to be our best year that we’ve had in a long time,” said catcher and pitcher Alan LaRocque. “(Forster) is a really good head coach, he knows a lot about the sport, he’s helped everyone just grow. Conditioning is always a great time with him, other than that, he’s a good coach.”
“As an older individual myself, just knowing what it takes to win is part of the game. That’s one of the things that Forster has been pushing, is that we go hard and we give our effort,” said pitcher and catcher Matt Houlihan. “Put our best foot forward no matter the situation, because there’s going to be tough baseball scenarios.”
A few key names from last year’s squad return this year, such as Houlihan, LaRocque, and Cade Stuff. That makes Forster’s job even easier as the veterans have stepped up to help the fresh faces get in line.
“They’re huge. They’re big character guys. They’ve helped some of the younger kids that are now on AA with the progression of it,” said Forster. “Make them understand that they are going to struggle a little bit. Having those older guys, that’s going to help those younger guys out quite a bit just because of the experience that they do have.”
“Attitude and effort, that’s a really big (goal) for us. Everything else will fall in place, plus we want to be really solid defensively,” said LaRocque. “The hits will come. With the runs we put up, I think we’re going to be a tough team to beat. With good attitude and effort, anything can happen.”
For the Chargers to make it back to the state tournament, the team must remain healthy, as it has only 12 active players on the roster this year. But the team appears to already have a solid foundation of team chemistry in the making. In the early parts of the season, Great Falls looks to knock the rust off before expecting improvement later in the season.
“Early on, it’s just getting better, every day. Come out, work hard, put the effort in during practice and see what happens during games,” said Forster. “I understand that we’re going to make mistakes during games, but if we can make the early mistakes now and then get into our season where we’re not making those mistakes, that’ll be better for us.”
The Chargers will next play Vauxhall at home at 7 p.m. on Friday.