SHERIDAN — The Troopers have an opportunity to find out a lot about themselves this weekend in Gillette.
Still shorthanded at a few positions but back on the field after rainouts scrapped games with Billings, Miles City and a doubleheader with Powell last weekend, a five-game Memorial Day weekend tournament should be a perfect launch into the full baseball swing of summer.
“We’ll play five games in three days, and then school will be out and we go full boar from then on out,” head coach Ben Phillips said Thursday as his team enters the Memorial Day tournament with just seven games under their belt, meeting Gillette teams that have played 15 and 20 games so far.
“Everybody’s tired of practicing,” he added. “We’ll be short a couple kids this weekend due to graduation, but we’re going to bring up some Jets players. It will be good for them to get an opportunity. We’ll have our full squad after Memorial Day.”
Sheridan (4-3) plays two relative unknowns in Regina Saskatchewan and Rock Springs Saturday to open things up.
On Sunday, they see more familiar competition, playing one game against the League A Gillette Rustlers (3-12) and then finish with the Billings Halos and fellow League AA opponent Gillette Roughriders (7-13) on Monday.
“Gillette’s varsity will be tough, they’re fundamentally sound so they’re always a tough team,” Phillips said. “The Billings Halos always have one or two quality pitchers on their staff.
“It’s nobody we haven’t seen before as far as competition goes, so it will be a good weekend for us.”
The Troop have had little trouble getting their bats going through a spring where six of their scheduled games have been rained out.
Sheridan is batting .325 on the year with a .456 on base percentage. Connor McCafferty, the Trooper with the most plate appearances at 29, is hitting .480 with 12 hits and seven RBIs.
Subtracting two homers they hit against Powell in a game that was scrapped in the third inning due to rainstorms, Sheridan has hit three taters this year and is averaging 8.7 runs per game.
Issues with poor weather have been coupled with the usual comings and goings of players still participating in spring high school sports, and that inconsistency has reared its head most noticeably in their pitching rotation.
The Troop have tried nine different arms in their seven games, looking for order behind No. 1-man Drew Adriaens and No. 2 Skyler Holwell.
Despite all that, Sheridan is off to a good start after winning their only League AA game 9-7 over Cheyenne Post 6. They suffered their two toughest losses this season to last year’s Montana state champion, the always-formidable Billings Scarlets.
“I talked to my guys yesterday and let them know the rotation for each game this weekend, I’ve got five starters picked out,” Phillips said. “Hopefully we can get good innings from all of them, they’ve been off for two weeks so their arms should be rested.
“If they throw strikes they should do well.”
Sheridan Troopers at Memorial Day Tournament
in Gillette Fri.-Mon.
Friday, May 24
5:30 Regina Saskatchewan vs. Gillette Rustlers
8:00 Regina vs. Gillette Riders
Saturday, May 25
Noon Sheridan vs. Regina
2:30 Rock Springs vs. Sheridan
5:00 Billings Halos vs. Rock Springs
7:30 Regina vs. Gillette Riders
Sunday, May 26
9:30 Regina vs. Billings
Noon Sheridan vs. Gillette Rustlers
2:30 Rock Springs vs. Gillette Rustlers
5:00 Rock Springs vs. Gillette Riders
7:30 Billings vs. Gillette Riders
Monday, May 27
9:30 Rock Springs vs. Gillette Rustlers
Noon Billings vs Gillette Rustlers
2:30 Sheridan vs. Billings
5:00 Sheridan vs. Gillette Riders
-Round Robin format, team with best overall record wins first place trophy.
1. Overall Record 3. Team that had least runs allowed 2. Head-to-head competition 4. Team that scored most runs 5. Coin flip