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2019 KSHSAA State Baseball Preview - Team Capsules

Elkhart headed to state for the third time in four years.
By: Conor Nicholl for Sports in Kansas w/ Chet Kuplen
May 22, 2019

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Conor Nicholl takes a look at state baseball team by team as he looks into all 40 state qualifiers across five classes of Kansas. If stats weren't provided to us or listed online anywhere then we won't have them. Info about your team can always be sent to sportsinkansas@gmail.com 

Be on the lookout for our all-state and pitcher/player/coach of the year honorees from Sports in Kansas a week after state baseball concludes. 

Special thanks to Nex-Tech Wireless, Friends University, American Implement and Kansas Turf for presenting our state coverage. 

Class 6A

1.Haysville Campus (20-2) – Campus faces rival Derby in the first round of the state tournament. In the latest Kansas Baseball Coaches Association rankings, Free State was ranked first, and Campus stood second in 6A. Campus and Derby have matched up twice this year. The Colts defeated Derby, 6-4, on April 26 and 5-4 on May 1. Last year, Campus and Derby split its two meetings. The teams were supposed to play in the 6A third-place contest last year but the game was called because of weather. The Colts were 16-8 in 2018 and returned all-stater Jackson Hartley.

8.Derby (11-9) – The Panthers are making a repeat trip to the state tournament. Derby was the No. 13 seed in Class 6A West and had lost six one-run games entering regional, according to the Derby Informer. In the regionals, Grant Adler threw a complete game shutout in the first contest, and then Bryce Atkinson had a key three-run homer in the 11-3 regional championship win against Manhattan. Tyler Farmer pitched a complete game for the regional championship. In his postseason career at Derby, Adler has thrown three complete-game shutouts with 26 strikeouts against five hits. Hunter Igo, a Top 11 football pick and football/baseball signee for Fort Hays, Adler, Coleson Syring and Kade Snodgrass are among the key players. Senior Tyler Farmer is 5-2 on the mound. Atkinson has hit six homers, and Adler has a 3-2 record 1.01 ERA in 41.2 innings.

4. Olathe Northwest (17-5) – Olathe Northwest advanced to the state tournament last season but lost in the first round to Derby and finished 15-8.

5. Mill Valley (14-5) – Mill Valley has allowed just 2.68 runs a contest, best in Class 6A East. The Jaguars have tallied 6.16 runs per contest.

2. Lawrence Free State (19-3) – Free State held off Hutchinson, 11-10, in nine innings and defeated Wichita West, 10-0. The Firebirds have two state titles and a pair of runner-ups. Ethan Bradford earned 6A Pitcher of the Year with a 6-1 record and 0.63 earned-run average.

7. Olathe East (15-7) – OE has tallied 4.59 runs a contest and allowed 3.36 runs a game. OE lost three straight contests, including a 5-4 extra inning contest and a 3-2 defeat, and then won three straight, including 4-1 against Shawnee Mission East in the regional title.

3. Washburn Rural (17-5) – Rural has enjoyed one of the best offenses in 6A with 7.73 runs scored per game. The Junior Blues have permitted 3.36 runs a contest. Rural opened the season with two losses against Hays High and then won 10 in a row before three losses.  The third defeat came in the first game of a doubleheader against Topeka Seaman, but Rural won the second contest, 3-1. Since then, Rural has won seven in a row and permitted just 13 runs. Two of the games have been one-run victories, including an 8-7 victory against Lawrence.

6. Blue Valley Northwest (16-6) – Blue Valley Northwest opened 0-2 and was 3-5 after eight games before a 13-1 run that has included two extra inning victories.

Class 5A

1.Bishop Carroll (21-0) –  Bishop Carroll continues to deliver a dominant season, including an 11-1 victory against Valley Center in the regional semifinals and 8-4 versus Maize South in the regional title game. Carroll briefly trailed 2-0 after Maize South scored against BC standout starter Brady Bockover early. But Carroll quickly scored seven straight runs and led 7-2 by the third inning. Carroll and Elkhart are the only undefeated teams left in Kansas baseball. Carroll is ranked first by the KBCA in 5A. Carroll lost to Seaman in the 5A finale last spring. Senior Reece Flax carries a .543 average. Sophomore Jorey Farber is 9-0, and Jack Ebright has a 0.44 ERA in 32 innings.

8. Salina South (10-10) – Salina South was the No. 11 seed in 5A West, but earned back-to-back upsets. In the first regional contest, the Cougars defeated Maize, 7-5, in eight innings. In the regional title, the Cougars bested third-seeded Goddard, 15-2. Salina South is at the state tournament for the third occasion in the last four years.

4. Topeka Seaman (17-5) – Seaman has been a longtime state tournament participant and won the Class 5A state championship last year. Seaman has reached the state tournament 16 straight years and reached the state title 12 of the last 20 years. Seaman brought back the majority of its starters from last year, including standout junior Hunter Hesseltine, but graduated pitcher Jackson Cobb, now at Kansas.

5. Arkansas City (13-8) – In another upset-filled regional, No. 5 Arkansas City won Sub-State 4 with an 8-4 victory versus No. 13 seed Kapaun Mt. Carmel in the regional championship game. KMC had beaten No. 4 Goddard Eisenhower, 11-5, in the regional semifinals.

2. St. Thomas Aquinas (19-3) – Aquinas is ranked second by the KBCA and is tied with Pittsburg for the top Class 5A East offense with nine runs a contest. Aquinas permitted just 3.73 runs a contest. Aquinas finished with five straight wins entering state. The Saints have tallied double-digit runs in five games and nine runs in five other contests.

7. Great Bend (10-10) – In one of the biggest upsets in any classification, Great Bend defeated rival Hays High, 6-2, in the regional title game at Indian Field. Hays High finished 20-2 and tied the single season record for victories in Frank Leo’s last season as coach. Leo captured 576 wins in 39 years and had announced his retirement before the year started. Great Bend is back at the state tournament for a second straight year. GB was the No. 10 seed in Class 5A West. GB also made a surprise run to the state tournament last year with a 9-14 record and the No. 8 seed. The Panthers lost to Shawnee Heights in the first round of state last year. The Panthers have enjoyed strong pitching from Townsend Kurth and Colin Hall.

3. Pittsburg (17-4) – Pittsburg, led by head coach Keith Matlock, is ranked sixth by the KBCA. The Purple Dragons own a quality 7-6 extra inning victory against Fort Scott on March 26, and then lost, 6-4, to Fort Scott on April 2. It remains Fort Scott’s only loss. Pittsburg fell, 7-4, to Aquinas on April 17. The Purple Dragons own a 12-1 victory against Tonganoxie, a state qualifier. Pittsburg has a solid cast of seniors that include Trenton Austin, Jerek Butcher, Bentley Boekhout, Dylan White, and Zach Sutton. Caden Bressler has also had a breakout junior campaign. Dylan White is one of the states best multiple sport athletes as the SIK 4A Player of the Year in football and also qualified for four events in state track and field while being one of the Dragons best pitchers and outfielders. 

6. St. James Academy (12-9) – St. James has tallied 5.95 runs a game and permitted 3.85. The Thunder are 5-1 in their last six games. The Thunder hold a key victory over St. Thomas Aquinas this year. 

Class 4A

1.Fort Scott (21-1) – Fort Scott was ranked first by the KBCA in the last coaches’ poll. FS lost 7-6 in extra innings to Pittsburg in the season opener. Since then, the Tigers have not lost, including two extra inning contests. In the last 13 contests, Fort Scott has tallied double-digit runs in 12 games and nine runs in another game. No stats are listed for the Tigers until after the season but we do know that Matt Campbell and Alec Michaud are two of the best players in 4A. Drake LaRoche and Brady Masters have also been outstanding in 2019 on the mound. Brady Bowles, Ty Gorman and Ivan Witt (Wichita State sophomore commit) also have been huge in 2019. Josh Regan has done a great job with this group. Tigers have produced a lot of talent recently in Division I players Mason Knopp (SE Louisiana) and Kaleb DeLaTorre (South Alabama) who started out at Neosho. Another fun fact is that former MLB star Adam LaRoche is an assistant coach and his son Drake is one of the better pitchers in 4A this season as a junior. 

8. Kansas City Piper (8-12) – Piper has delivered 6.40 runs a game and permitted 6.6. Piper had lost seven in a row this season, but has captured three straight entering state, including 5-2 against Topeka Hayden in the regional title game. Piper took Fort Scott to extra innings earlier this season and played in the loaded Fort Scott Adam LaRoche tournament. 

4. Buhler (19-3) – Buhler was ranked third in the Class 4A coaches’ rankings. The Crusaders have been among the top-five teams in 4A West in runs scored (8.27) and runs allowed (3.09) per contest. In the regional title, Buhler led Wellington, 5-0, early before the gap closed to 5-4. Then, the Crusaders scored five in a row. Kaleb Wiggins drove in four runs, and Cole Ely had three RBI. In the regional semifinals, Taiden Hawkinson delivered a complete game shutout against Chapman. Buhler also has a solid freshman arm in Bradley Neil as he's pitched six complete game wins this year. 

5. Chanute (13-7) – Chanute reached the state tournament for the second time in the last four years and eighth regional crown since 1994, according to the Chanute Tribune. The Blue Comets defeated Atchison, 17-1, in the regional title game. Mason Manbeck went 3 of 3 with three RBI, and Kam Koester earned the victory. Lane Harvey has hit three homers this season. Chanute is led by former minor league player Zack Murry who was an all-state selection from 2003-2006 at Chanute HS before becoming an All-American at Neosho County one season under his father Steve. Chanute saw some quality competition with Fort Scott, Pittsburg and Frontenac on their schedule this season which made up the majority of their losses. 

2. Wichita Trinity Academy (18-1) – Trinity was ranked third by the KBCA. Trinity leads 4A West and ranks second in 4A to Fort Scott with 10.50 runs per game. Trinity allows just three runs a contest. The Knights opened the season with a 9-4 loss to Clearwater in the second half of a doubleheader. Trinity hasn’t lost since. In the last seven contests, Trinity has outscored teams, 57-7. Jake McKenzie and Collin Pall are hitting .538 and .536, respectively.

7. Mulvane (9-11) – Mulvane pulled off two upsets in regionals as the No. 13 seed. In the first round, Mulvane beat No. 4 Andale, 6-5. In the regional championship, Mulvane beat No. 5 Clay Center, 4-1.

3. Nickerson (16-2) – Nickerson was ranked fourth by the KBCA and defeated Circle, 6-5, in the regional championship game. The Panthers led 5-1 entering the seventh before Circle scored four runs to tie the game. Then, Nickerson tallied a run in the bottom of the seventh. Tanner Schrag homered in the win. Chandler Eaton and Carson Cornelius hit .532 and .527, respectively. Cornelius is 6-0 on the mound.

6. Tonganoxie (12-9) – The Chieftains beat Baldwin/Bishop Seabury, 11-10, and Iola, 8-5. Iola was the defending 4A-II state champion and was ranked second. Last year, Tonganoxie was fourth in Class 4A, Division I. Senior catcher Austin Fisher, senior outfielder Ethan Basler and junior pitchers Cooper Cunningham and Jayden Wilson are among the key players.

Class 3A

1.St.George-Rock Creek (20-3) – Rock Creek shutout Smoky Valley (10-0) and Hesston (8-0) in regionals before a 9-5 regional championship victory against Riley County. Rock Creek is at state for the sixth consecutive season and captured the 4A, Division II title in 2015. RC was swept by Riley County in the regular season before the regional title victory. Senior Toby Becker and shortstop Mason Sturdy lead in the team on the mound and at the plate. Rock Creek was ranked third by the KBCA behind Frontenac and Maur Hill, neither of the teams that reached the state tournament. As well, fourth-ranked Riley County did not make the state tournament either. Karter Carlson is batting .519.

8. Burlington (7-12) – Burlington entered regionals with just four victories, and then rolled through the regional with an 11-0 victory against Fredonia, 20-1 versus West Franklin and 7-3 against Prairie View. The Wildcats are at the state tournament for the first time since 2015. Junior Parker Meats is an outstanding two-way player.

4. Cheney (19-4) – Cheney opened the season 12-0 and then went 2-4 before five straight victories to close out the regular season. The Cardinals are in the state tournament for the third time in four years. Landon Gegen has hit four homers, and Dawson Winter has clubbed three. Kauy Kuhn has a 1.99 ERA in 45.2 innings.

5. Wellsville (17-4) – Wellsville dominated in its regional with 15-3, 10-0 and 13-3 victories, the championship coming against Jefferson West. Wellsville are an experienced team with seven seniors, six whom have started since their sophomore years. Senior second baseman Kobe Channel and senior third baseman/pitcher Tanner Shalkoski (0.34 ERA) help pace the squad. Wellsville was ranked sixth by the KBCA.

2. Minneapolis (19-3) – The Lions have achieved a huge turnaround after a 9-12 season last year. Minneapolis went 3-7 in NCAA play last spring and is 9-2 in league play this year. The Lions had split against Concordia on April 26, and then defeated the Panthers, 7-5, in the regional championship game.

7. Hugoton (14-8) – Hugoton started 0-6 and was 4-8 before 10 straight wins. In the 10-game winning streak, the Eagles have outscored teams, 109-31. In the regional final, Hugoton defeated Colby, 7-6.

3. Sabetha (18-3) – Sabetha, led by head coach Aaron Frey, is the defending 3A state champion and defending Thomas More Prep-Marian for the title last year. The Bluejays are the back-to-back 3A state football titlists. Senior Joe Gruber and junior Gabe Garber pace a talented roster. Gruber is 4-0 and is hitting .522. Sabetha was ranked fifth by the KBCA. Also look for Braden Argabright, Jalen Worthley, Drew Schmelze who have had solid campaigns. Sabetha has went back to back in football, golf as of today and now looking to do it in baseball. 

6. Baxter Springs (17-5) – Baxter Springs captured its own regional with an upset victory against Frontenac in the regional semifinals. Baxter had lost 7-1 and 5-3 to Frontenac on April 22, and then defeated Frontenac, 10-8, in extra innings. In the regional final, Baxter defeated Girard, 4-3. Chris Mercer has now been to state in five of his six seasons as the head coach with a state title in 2016 and a runner-up in 2017. Landon Abbott, a veteran pitcher who threw in the title game in 2017, will get the start in game one for the Lions. Riley Bush came up clutch with 4 RBI in the upset over Frontenac in the regional semifinal although anybody that knows anything about high school baseball cant ever count out the Lions who have eight state titles as a school. 

Class 2-1A

1.Elkhart (19-0) – Elkhart is ranked first in Class 2-1A by the Kansas  Baseball Coaches Association and is the likely favorite. Mission Valley and Southeast-Cherokee were ranked second and third, respectively, but neither squad reached state. Last year, Elkhart was the No. 1 seed but lost to No. 8 Pittsburg Colgan, which eventually lost to Spearville in the state championship game. The Wildcats have six seniors including Lane Whisennhand one of the top multiple sport athletes in 2-1A. 

8. Wichita Independent (13-10) – Independent captured the Class 3A state title with a 25-1 record in 2017. Independent was the third seed in the Bluestem regional behind Cedar Vale/Dexter and Flinthills. Independent defeated both teams with wins against CVD (6-2) and Flinthills (16-2). The ten loss record could be very decieving with Wichita area competition. 

4. Humboldt (20-3) – Humboldt, ranked fifth in the KBCA, is back at the state tournament. The Cubs advanced to the Class 3A state tournament last spring. Humboldt defeated three-loss SE-Cherokee, 6-1, in the regional final. Dagen Goodner, a multiple sport athlete that's headed to the Shrine Bowl, paces the Cubs with a .567 average.

5. Olathe Heritage Christian Academy (13-6) – Heritage Christian was the second seed in the Richmond regional behind Jayhawk Linn. Heritage Christian defeated Yates Center, 6-0, in the semifinal and beat defeated Jayhawk Linn, 6-3, in the regional final. Senior Nelson Schutte is 5-3 with a 2.43 ERA in 46 innings on the mound.

2. Marion (18-1) – Marion was ranked fourth by the KBCA. The Warriors own two victories against Wichita Independent and split against Little River on April 2. Since then, Marion has tallied at least nine runs a game every contest except two, a 5-2 and 7-3 doubleheader sweep against Sedgwick on April 26. Those mark the only losses for Sedgwick this year. Senior Evann Heidebrecht has a .535 average, and Sam Zinn is batting .523. Zinn and junior Jaxton Tracy are both 4-0.

7. Prairie Village-Kansas City Christian (14-8) – PV-KCC is back at the state tournament after a 19-5 record and loss in the first round last year to Ell-Saline. Junior Chase Hill carries a .540 average. Prairie Village defeated Maranatha Christian, 6-3, in the regional final.

3. Sedgwick (15-2) – Sedgwick is back to state for the first time since 2015, the last year of Brylie Ware’s career. Ware has starred first at Neosho County Community College and then currently at Oklahoma. Sedgwick defeated a quality Ellis team, 17-7, in the regional championship. Lance Hoffsommer carries a .633 average and is 7-2 on the mound.

6. Rossville (14-8) – Rossville dominated its regional with wins by a combined score of 42-0, including 20-0 against Mission Valley in the finals. Bo Reeves has led on the mound with a 5-2 record and 0.61 ERA.