THORNTON, Colo. -- Thieves stole thousands of dollars of equipment from the Thornton High School baseball team just as parents say the new coach was turning things around with players and the team’s finances for the first time in years.
The thieves couldn't have hit at a worse time for the team, which just completed a rebuilding year.
The two batting machines were key to the rebuilding process.
The baseball program made big strides this year thanks in part to assistant coach Mike Miller, who came out of retirement after 50 years of coaching.
He helped his son, head coach Jeremy Miller, teach players from the ground up.
"You just have to be willing to invest upfront and hope that it pays off long term," said Jeremy Miller, who's also a Thornton High School teacher.
But this week, someone broke into a locked storage shed next to the baseball field and stole equipment, including the two pitching machines each worth thousands of dollars.
"We started the year in the negative,” junior varsity baseball player Caleb Batts said. “And we just built it up from there and we really turned it around. But this just sets us back so far, it really hurts the program."
The variable-speed pitching machines teach players to react faster to a variety of pitchers.
The coach and his father have spent some of their own money to buy equipment such as batting cage nets and the pitching machines.
"Climbed some big hurdles and then have this happen," Jeremy Miller said. "So we're really looking to make some modifications to secure the facility."
Parents said the coaches have made huge strides with the players for the first time in many years.
They were hoping to build a more secure equipment shed and make more improvements to the field before the burglary.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the team.