A few immeasurable qualities told Staley High School aseball coach David Wilson this season could be a special one. But he coupled that optimism with caution.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
That's a reflection of the past. After all, Wilson has been optimistic about the Falcons' chances in previous seasons. So he looked for ways this team could be different for evidence it was better built for a long postseason run.
He found his best clues, believe it or not, in the form of a losing streak.
We went through a little stretch in the middle of the season where we didn't play very well at all, and usually that's when you'd be afraid that something is ready to fall apart, Wilson said. But these guys stayed with it. They stayed energetic and kept great team chemistry, and I think that's when we knew.
It was a good omen. Staley will play in the the Missouri Class 5 state tournament Friday for the first time in the school's five-year history when the Falcons face Francis Howell of St. Charles in the semifinals at 7 p.m. at T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O'Fallon. With a chunk of its schedule wiped out because of rain this spring, Staley has a 20-7 record while Francis Howell is 31-5.
Christian Brothers College of St. Louis will meet Willard in the other semifinal. The championship game is scheduled for 1 p.m.Saturday.
We never lost our goals, Wilson said. You always keep that goal to make it to state, and we've felt this is a team that has a chance to be in every game.
That's aided by strike-throwers on the mound and reliable defenders in the field. Staley had a little of both in a 4-2 win last week against Blue Springs South in the quarterfinals.
Austin White picked up the victory on the mound. While many of his teammates are experiencing a state tournament for the first time, White is something more along the lines of a veteran. He was part of the 2010 football team that won a state championship.
It's going to be crazy, he said. We'll have a whole bunch of emotions flowing, but it's going to be fun.
Kearney girls soccer
An undefeated regular season certainly came with its perks for the Kearney girls soccer team a conference championship, district title and the first trip to the Missouri Class 2 state tournament in school history, for example but it has its share of drawbacks.
Few recognize this better than Bulldogs coach Jackie Haller, who finds herself constantly reminding her team that no match comes easily especially in the postseason.
You have to challenge them sometimes, Haller said. And remind them that any team can be beaten.
The Bulldogs, 26-0, won't need any convincing of that this time. Not when you consider their semifinal opponent at 4 p.m. Friday at Blue Springs High School. That is St. Dominic of O'Fallon, 24-0-1, which is ranked as the one of the nation's best teams.
If there's a silver lining about that, it's that Haller expects Kearney will come ready to play. The Bulldogs got off to a sluggish start in a 2-0 victory over Smithville in the Class 2 sectionals before playing with better energy in a 4-0 win over Notre Dame de Sion in the quarterfinals.
When you're undefeated, there's so much pressure, Haller said. Everybody's expectations are so high, including ours.
State track notes
• North Kansas City sophomore Kiesha Bailey placed third in the high jump, clearing 5 feet, 5 inches to place herself among the final three competitors. She missed three attempts at 5-6 and settled for third.
• The Class 4 boys long jump event was owned by local talent, and signs point to that remaining true for another year. Blue Springs senior Donte Watkins won the event, with three juniors finishing behind him. Fort Osage's Elijah McGill was second; Rockhurst's Curtis Goldmon took third; and Park Hill South's Nick Griffith finished fourth at Lincoln University in Jefferson City.
• Smithville senior Katie Tuck took fourth in the 1,600 meters. She has signed to run at UMKC.
• Park Hill senior Cain Winebrenner took third in the 800 meters.
To reach Sam McDowell, call 816-234-4869 or send email to email@example.com.