Kansas’ five baseball state tournaments — Class 6A in Lawrence, 5A in Wichita, 4A in Salina, 3A in Manhattan and 2-1A in Emporia — will start a day earlier than previous years with the quarterfinals set for Thursday followed by the semifinals and finals Friday.
1 BV West, Blue Valley carry EKL torch
Third-seeded Blue Valley West, 18-4, dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker to BV North in the Class 6A state championship last season, but the Jaguars — who lost ace Collin Wiles to the Texas Rangers — are reloaded and ready to atone. Coach Bill McDonald’s squad boasts plenty of talented starting pitchers, making BV West a favorite once again to win state. Senior left-hander Derek Hurt hasn’t allowed an earned run this season, while junior righty Zach Engelken struck out 15 in the regional final win against BV Northwest. Junior Ryan Ralston and sophomore Connor Kaiser provide additional depth on the mound. Meanwhile, East Kansas League rival Blue Valley reached state for the sixth straight season under first-year coach Tony Scardino. The Tigers’ attack, led by Brandon Lee, who batted .420 this season, faces a tough task against Wichita Northwest and Wichita State-bound right-hander Mitchell McIntyre in the first round.
2 ONW, Olathe South represent Sunflower at state
Olathe Northwest, which faces BV West in the opener, caught fire at the right time after a 5-7 start, winning nine of the last 10 and outscoring its opponents 78-21 over that stretch. The Ravens will counter pitching-rich BV West with Shane Hummel, who is 5-1 with a 1.24 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 45 innings. Taylor Davis (.478, six doubles) headlines ONW’s offensive attack. Meanwhile, Olathe South will see a familiar foe in the first round, Manhattan. Both teams are 16-5, but the Falcons are certain to have a psychological edge after whipping Manhattan 10-3 in the Class 6A third-place game a year ago. Olathe South will send Isaiah Campbell (4-2, 1.32 ERA) to the hill, and he’ll likely square off with Henry de Noble, who tossed a two-hit shutout against Lawrence in the regional last week. Senior Brett Nickle (.410, 21 RBIs) powers the offense.
3 Mill Valley, BV Southwest set for 5A state
Fifth-seeded Mill Valley, 18-4, will hand the ball to Washburn-bound senior Zach Stinnett in a 5A quarterfinal showdown at 6:30 p.m. Thursday against Maize South at Wichita State’s Eck Stadium. Stinnett (4-0, 3.45 ERA) also bats cleanup for the Jaguars, who are led by senior shortstop L.J. Hatch. Hatch, who signed with Johnson County, batted .507 with 26 RBIs from the third spot in the lineup, while sophomore catcher Tyler Garrison batted .439 with a team-high 15 doubles. After battling through a few injuries, BV Southwest reached state for the first time behind all-state junior catcher T.J. Martin as well as Missouri Western-bound senior Mitch Thorman, Central Missouri bound senior Collin Frederick and all-state senior Anthony Miller.
4 De Soto counting on Holden
In the Class 4A ranks, De Soto, 15-6, drew the No. 5 seed and opens against Pratt, 16-5, at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Dean Evans Stadium in Salina. The Wildcats will rely on Dylan Holden both at the plate, where he’s batting .500 with 20 RBIs, but also on the mound, where he is 6-0 with a 2.12 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 461/3 innings. Corbin Clark, who is batting .424 with a team-leading 25 RBIs, also must have an impact for De Soto to advance at state.
5 Chargers make state tourney debut
Olathe-based Heritage Christian, 13-3, drew the No. 3 seed and faces Sublette, 13-8, in Thursday’s last Class 2-1A quarterfinal at Sodens Grove Baseball Field in Emporia. The Chargers are in their first season as a Kansas State High School Activities Association member. Junior Josh Hough, who went 1-0 with a 2.33 ERA in 24 innings over five appearances, gets the quarterfinal start. He’s also one of Heritage Christian’s top bats (.409) along with Matt Fischer (.585) and Michael Mitchell (.413).
| Tod Palmer, firstname.lastname@example.org