Demons’ coach eager for opener
DCHS host Hays to begin season
By John Zetmeir
Dodge City Daily Globe
The sun was shining and the infamous southwestern Kansas wind was nearly at a standstill on Monday afternoon as Zach Shipley guided his team through another practice at Demon Field on the eve of Dodge City’s 2016 season opener.
It might be Shipley’s first year as Dodge City’s head coach, but he is no stranger to Demon Field.
The banners printed all along the outfield wall pay tribute to his years as a Red Demon but none so much as the one in right center field. In 1999, Shipley was a member of the Red Demon’s state championship team.The only state championship team in program history.
17yearslater, he has traded in his catcher’s mitt for fungo. When asked if there was any special level of excitement going into Tuesday’s home opener, he could not regurgitate a typical coaches response.
A cliche just did not fit.
“I’d be crazy to say it’s just another baseball game,” Shipley said. “It’s not just another baseball game. I’m beyond excited to be back on Demon Field. It’s been a long time.
“As a kid you kind of always dream of being a player then having that dream of being a coach and being able to coach your hometown,” Shipley said. “I’m excited to get out here and get going. It’s just good to be home.”
Over the past month, the first-year head coach has been working on getting his new team to play his style of baseball. It’s a simple style to understand. He never wants to see his squad outworked.
Going into the season opener, Shipley’s system has brewed confidence among the senior laden team.
“ We’re mixing in different things then we have in the past few years,” senior infielder Eric Reid said. “I feel like we’re more competitive this year. We’re willing to fight against anyone and we’re going to be the team that brings it and not sits back on our heels.”
While there is a sense of optimism surrounding the Dodge City bunch, Shipley expects to learn the most about his team when they step between the white lines against Hays.
“We’ve got to find out if we’ve got those guys, come the sixth and seventh inning when it’s a tight game, that want the baseball or want the bat in that situation,”Shipley said.
The Red Demons are expecting a tough test from Western Athletic Conference foe Hays on Tuesday. Not only is it a team that Shipley played against during his high school days, Hays head coach Frank Leo was Indians’ coach when Shipley played for Dodge City.
“(Leo) is a winner,” Shipley said. “I remember playing against them in high school. Hays is always good. They are always going to bring a two, three, four good arms and they are always going to swing it from top to bottom. We’re going to have to play a clean game.”