The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Stephen McKay
Sports Writer 

Talking Sports: Stingrays meet, baseball tourney will fill weekend


For summertime, it's a pretty big weekend coming up in local sports.

First, the Sidney Stingrays swim team will hold its lone home meet of the season here in town. They will take on all their league opponents that include Bridgeport, Hemingford, Alliance, Torrington (Wyo.) and Rushville at the Sidney pool located next to the Cheyenne County Community Center. The first event is scheduled for 9 a.m.

The enthusiasm for swimming is strong in Sidney as the Stingrays are the largest team of the six teams in their district. Sidney is represented by about 80 swimmers who range in age from 5 to 15.

On Saturday, the Sidney American Legion teams welcome in four other opponents to Legion Field for the Sidney Senior Tournament. In addition to Post #17, Gering, Gordon, Buckley and Hershland will all do battle in a round-robin format. Sidney will play on Saturday and Sunday at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.

First up for Sidney on Saturday are the Buckley Bombers from Chappell while the Gordon Regulators are the opponent in the late game. Gering steps into the batter's box against Sidney on Sunday morning with Hershey its evening foe. Both Sunday opponents are league foes. While both the junior and senior Sidney teams are young, they have improved game-by-game.

"To hear the kids talk, they really want to win this tournament at home," said Sidney head coach Ray Witt. "The Buckley game will help us see where we are. That's not to take anything away from the other teams, but Buckley might just be the most well rounded of all the teams in the tournament. With Buckley up first, it's going to be hard to look past Saturday to our district opponents the next day."

None of the opponents Sidney will see this weekend are strangers. Already, Sidney has played each team at least once. Buckley has so far proven a challenge for Post #17 as it has already twice lost to the Bombers.

On the final weekend of May, the team from Chappell easily handled Sidney 10-1 at the Gering Seniors Tournament. Though Sidney fared better in their second meeting at Legion Field in a 6-3 loss, seven errors foiled any chance it had of victory.

The Gordon Regulators, on the other hand, have so far had their hands full when playing Post #17. In the season opener Sidney cruised past Gordon 19-3. The Regulators were again mercy ruled at Sidney on June 17 in a 9-1 final.

The two teams of greatest concern to Sidney in the long run are its two district foes Gering and Hershey. In their only meeting to date this season, Gering turned back Sidney 6-0 at Legion Field on June 3. Gering hurler Brent Barge went the distance in a five-hitter (all singles) during in which Sidney committed three errors.

The Hershland Trojans eked out a 6-5 win over Sidney in the locals home opener on May 27. Since then, however, Post #17 has proved very tough on Hershland.

Less than a week after they first tangled, Sidney blew out Hershey 12-0 in their final game of the Gering Tournament.

On Wednesday night, Sidney knocked the Hershey starter out of the box after he failed to retire any of the first six batters. Sidney went on to plate nine runs in the first while 14 hitters came to bat. Jake Heeren and Zack Means each had two run-scoring singles in the first. When the dust settled Sidney left Hershey with a 15-6 mercy-rule win.

"We have to be up and ready to go right from the start," Witt said. "The guys feel like they should have won this tournament last year and felt embarrassed that they didn't. That just may add a little more incentive for them this season."

Sidney will get the services of leadoff hitter Keaton Wakefield back for the tournament after he has been at a cross country camp up north for the past two games. On the other hand, starting infielder and No. 3 hitter Jake Heeren is scheduled to attend a football camp at the University of Wyoming.

"As we're dialing up and getting ready for districts, this will be a nice test for us since we're going to see a wide variety of pitching," Witt said. "One of the teams we won't see from our district is Chadron and that will be another strong test for us later on."

Sidney will travel to Chadron on July 8 for a junior-senior doubleheader.


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