GREAT FALLS — Last year, the Great Falls Chargers baseball program valued quality more than quantity, as the team made it into the state tournament with amazingly having only 12 players on the roster.
This year there are 20 players on the Chargers’ roster, but that’s the full total of everybody that signed up. There will not be a Great Falls Class A squad this year, just a Class AA one. But if anyone knows how to get more out of less, it’s the Chargers.
“Previously, we almost had to play every inning of every game last year. So this year is going to be more of, in non-conference games we’re going to be playing the younger kids a lot more,” said senior Andrew Paradise. “It’s going to be a little difficult to get used to, but it’s going to be a lot better because we’re not going to be tired.”
“Those guys that earned that state berth last year, they know what to expect,” said head coach Tony Forster. “That’s going to help out those younger guys and get them prepared for mid-season and into the conference games.”
Great Falls has a solid, familiar group returning to lead the way. Derick Spring, Paradise and Josh Lowry are seniors on the team this year. Plus, Brayden Welty, Braden Hirst, and Cal Cromwell all return to play from college.
“The first unit has so much chemistry and we’re hoping to bring that chemistry with the second group, too. When one unit plays better, everybody plays better, it’s just one of those things,” said Spring. “So if we can get everybody into our system and the way that we do things, it’s going to be a smooth ride to state.”
“Our bus rides are probably where we teach kids the most. We always gain some chemistry there and we get to know each other better,” said Paradise. “It’s probably the longest time we spend together, so we just teach each other through that stuff.”
Five straight home matchups at Centene Stadium are next on the schedule, a good sign for the Chargers as the team looks to evolve as the season progresses.
“I know what to expect out of our older guys, it’s going to be who steps up of the younger guys. When June hits or about mid-June, we’re going to see how those younger guys have evolved a little bit,” said Forster. “Some of those guys might jump in and be starters right away, some might be role players. The good thing is everyone on this team is buying in to what we’re trying to do. I’m just happy that we have this group of kids.”
Great Falls will play Vauxhall Academy at Centene Stadium for the first home game on Friday at 7 p.m.