Riverton Raiders open up season in Wheatland last weekend

By Shawn O’Brate

WHEATLAND – The Riverton Raiders and their new head coach Kevin Lofthus officially played their first game this past weekend in Wheatland during a triangular tournament between themselves, Buffalo and Wheatland.


The weekend was rainy, to say the least, which put a damper on the tournament as a whole but that did not stop Lofthus and his Raiders team from gaining their first win of the season against the Wheatland Lobos.


That win would be their only full game of the weekend as lightning and rain canceled their second game just one inning into play. But in that 10-6 victory over Wheatland it was apparent that Lofthus and his coaching staff have been working very hard on all the aspects of the game that fell short in their scrimmage match against Casper three weeks ago.


In the game against Wheatland shortstop Nate Hutchison and third-baseman Hunter Hauck both brought in two RBIs while centerfielder Chris Reinig and catcher Brayden Baker also brought in one RBI apiece.


There were 13 hits total by the Raiders team, a very different looking offensive powerhouse than was on display in the previously live-streamed scrimmage in mid-April.


Coach Lofthus dedicated much of that growth to their communication on the field, something that helps with every aspect of the game at every level:


“We really hammered home communication this week leading up to Wheatland,” coach Lofthus said, “win or lose that was the focus of the weekend. It was a huge win in the end because we 

got the win but we also really communicated well.”


He also stated what else they did well in their first regular season game:


“Hauck took great plays in at third, he bodied a few balls well. We all really ran bases well and fielded pretty great too. Made good contact on the ball and had some good pitches to get out of certain situations.”


Lofthus not only praised Hauck for his skills at third base but he also praised Hutchison, a high school junior, “[Nate] is a machine, really. He’s a machine at the plate and his baseball IQ is off the charts, he’s gonna do great this season.”


He also had nothing but great things to say about Reinig, another high school junior, who had a solid hit to third base, as well as some other Raiders players:


“[Reinig] was flying yesterday, and we need everyone to have that mentality no matter what they hit, a bouncer or a pop out,” Lofthus said, “Beau Anderson also pitched a pretty solid game.”


And while the win was a sweet cherry on top of a well-played game there will always be something to learn and expand on, especially if coach Lofthus has anything to do with it.


“The big learning experience I think we’ll have our guys focus on is we’re going to have to be more aggressive early in counts,” Lofthus said after the victorious weekend, “we want to attack and attack early, that’s our mentality.”


His assistant coaches would all agree as well, as Lofthus has really begun to mesh with assistant coaches Dan Hauck, Eric Baker and Steven Reinig:


“We’re all on the same page, all of us are genuinely happy with the effort from the boys and the win.”


With everything going so smoothly this weekend it truly put into perspective how great this opportunity for coach Lofthus has become, he’s even said that his daughter can tell just over the phone how happy he has been since arriving in Riverton from Palm Springs.


“My time so far has been fantastic, might be the best decision I’ve made in my life,” Lofthus said with joy in his voice, “Everyone in Riverton has been so supportive, the parents, kids, the whole community really.”


He even said there were 7-8 groups of parents that traveled all the way to Wheatland which brought a vivid memory of his parents traveling all over the country, even to Hawaii, and never missed a game of his senior year at UNLV when he knocked 26 home runs and brought in 63 RBIs. 


Coach Lofthus hopes to see even more parents and members of the Riverton community at the C-Team game on Wednesday afternoon when Lander’s American Legion team comes to town at 4:45 PM at Roy Peck Field. There are also two games this weekend at the same field: Cody versus the A-Team Saturday May 14th, and Green River playing Sunday May 15th against the B-Team.


Everyone in the Raiders organization hopes to see family members as well as non-family members come and support this fresh, new-feel team and cheer them onto more victories as the season progresses.