GJ Tigers Set to Open Season Under New Coach
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.--The start of a new season always means a clean slate, which couldn't be more true for the Grand Junction High School baseball team.
The Tigers were hit hard by graduation, losing 11 seniors from last year's team, and coming in with just three--plus a very big junior class.
But the newest face in the dugout is first-year head coach Donnie Alexander.
"I'm just wanting these guys to understand the concept of baseball and how the game is supposed to be played," Alexander said. "Taking care of business and doing the small things, all day every day. Not just on game days and trying to be able to flip a switch. At the high school level, it's kind of tough for them to do that."
And so far, the players seem to buying into his coaching philosophy.
"I like what he brings to the table with the discipline," junior infielder Dillon Fante said. "He kind of runs a tight ship. His practices are really nice and kind of organized. That's kind of the way he goes. That's the way he lives."
A four year starter at Northern Colorado, Alexander is no stranger to the game of baseball. And as the Colorado native steps into his first head coaching position, he says its an honor to join the ranks at Grand Junction High School.
"Grand Junction's got five state championships under its belt," he said. "That's second most in state history behind Cherry Creek. A lot of people don't know that, so there's a lot of baseball history. I am blessed. I am honored. I thank God every day that I got this chance to come over here."
Although the former Ogden Raptor never got a chance to meet the program's first head coach, the legendary Bill Fanning who passed away on February 8th, his influence is clear.
And when the Tigers open league play against Fruita on March 12th, it will be nothing short of memorable. It will be the first annual "Bill Fanning Night," honoring the man who brought there state titles to Grand Junction.
"Hopefully we can pack the stands and make it kind of like a JUCO environment for this one game," Alexander said. "In honor of a man that's just a legend in the game of baseball. God's got a really good pitcher up there right now with Bill Fanning being able to come out of the bullpen and throw strikes."
Senior Josh Moore, who was second on the team in innings pitched last year, will get the start when Grand Junction opens the season Friday against Greeley Central.