BOZEMAN – After a 39-19 season the Bozeman Bucks AA baseball team has earned the number one seed heading into Saturday’s state tournament in Kalispell.
“Once you get to the state tournament, your seeding doesn’t mean a whole lot it all starts over and you have to play good baseball,” said Bozeman head coach Garrett Schultz.
Schultz is in his first season leading the Bucks team after coaching Bozeman’s A team last year. But moving up a league is nothing unknown.
“I do things a little bit differently than last year, but those guys had this team in a good spot for sure and we’ve built on that. The AA level is fun, it’s competitive,” said Schultz. “It’s fun, it’s just a little bit quicker game than the A for sure. But it’s baseball, it’s still baseball.”
Even with a new head coach, this team does not have a brand new look.
“A lot of us have been playing together since we were nine or ten. We’ve had the same coaches those whole years. I think that’s probably a big factor,” said Koby Scala, a senior first baseman for the Bucks.
Bozeman knows that chemistry is an advantage for them, but they know winning state is no easy task. Last year the Bucks made it to the championship game, but lost to the Missoula Mavs 4-3 in Bozeman in the game’s final moments.
“It was a fun game up until the end. And then the end, it’s hard with everybody crying and it’s a tough loss,” said second baseman Payton Price. “But just taking second, I mean we all want it really bad and we’ve wanted it since we were little. We’ve dreamed of it, we really want to win that game.”
The Bucks say there is a lot of pressure to get back to the finals, but they can’t fret on their seeding. They were in the same situation last year as a one-seed and lost in the first round.
“You can’t take anybody for granted like last year we were the one-seed and we lost the first game to the Billings Scarlets last year as the eighth seed. And we know we can’t take anybody lightly and we just have to control what we can do and play the best we can,” said senior Ryan Evenson, the Bucks third baseman/
With the tournament being double-elimination, the Bucks were able to rebound. As a group they now know what to expect as the top-dog in the opening round. And this time around there is a chip on their shoulder to redeem the heartbreak they experienced on their home field last season.
And now they are right where they started last year. As a one seed they will face the 8th seeded Great Falls Chargers at 10 a.m. to open the tournament in Saturday.