Mountains

Bulldogs head to state tourney

By Dale Shrull Journal staff writer

After 47 years of coaching the Dove Creek Bulldogs, Ken Soper can still be surprised.

When the Bulldogs’ baseball season started, Soper was looking at a team that looked little to the previous year’s squad.

That meant the expectations weren’t real high. But after blasting the Pirates of Cotopaxi, 23-4, the Bulldogs (6-11) move on to the 1A state tournament quarterfinals Saturday.

It was the first postseason victory for the Bulldogs and moved them into their first state tournament appearance since 2007.

Saturday’s surprising blowout win was what makes coaching special to Soper.

“Taking a team, and to go above your expectations and this team is going above my expectations,” Soper said. “It’s a special year because of that.”

Following losses to Dolores two weeks ago, Soper talked about the Bulldogs and the growing pains that comes with an inexperienced team.

“We’re inconsistent. Some games, we play error-less ball, then the next, we’ll make nine errors but that’s because of all the new people on this team,” he said.

Soper said three of his players had never played baseball before this season.

Every year and every team brings new challenges, Soper said.

“Every year is a different year. Every group of kids that come along, is different than the past year’s group. And it’s nice to see them develop,” he said.

Now that the Bulldogs are in the state tournament, exceeding expectations is very satisfying.

“This team is 100 percent over last year. You can’t believe the improvement of this year’s team. We have so much inexperience and for them to do what they are doing, I’m proud of them,” he said.

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