When the Missouri high school baseball polls were released in February — featuring Liberty North in the top 10 for the first time in its four-year history — Eagles coach Ryan Stegall felt the surprise ranking warranted a preseason meeting with the players.
“We talked about it being a great accomplishment, but we hadn’t even won a game yet,” Stegall said. “The talk was to find a way to keep moving up the ladder.”
They’ve done just that.
Behind a 12-1 record, Liberty North has moved up to No. 3 in the latest Missouri Class 5 rankings, released Monday.
It’s been a impressive opening month of the season by the Eagles.
A senior-laden squad, the Eagles have held all but one opponent to five runs or fewer this season. The pitching staff, led by ace Tyler Funk, who is 4-0, has compiled a 1.70 earned run average.
The bats are keeping pace. Liberty North has scored double-digit runs in seven of its last nine games.
Colin Flanagan, Andrew Vogelbaugh and Brian Sharp are each batting .420 or better. Vogelbaugh, the cleanup hitter, has driven in 28 runs.
“Guys are feeding off of each other,” Stegall said. “We’ve just been swinging the heck out of it. You would think, sooner or later, it can’t continue the way it has been, but we’ve been playing really solid baseball.”Future Bearcat
Kearney senior Dray Starzl had quite the weekend.
An all-state basketball player, Starzl committed last Friday to Northwest Missouri State, where he plans to follow in the footsteps of his brother, Dillon, who just recently completed his fourth season with the Bearcats.
Later Friday evening, Starzl represented Missouri in the Greater Kansas City All-Star Basketball Challenge at Shawnee Mission South. He scored four points.
At 6 feet, 8 inches, Starzl led the Bulldogs in scoring and rebounding this past season. He averaged 13.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.Soccer rankings
Park Hill and Liberty are ranked in the latest Missouri State High School Soccer Coaches Association’s Class 3 poll for Western Missouri, released last week.
Park Hill was voted fifth after winning five of its first six matches, and Liberty is ranked eighth. Winnetonka, Staley and Park Hill South also received votes but did not crack the top-10.
Unbeaten St. Teresa’s Academy is No. 1, followed by Lee’s Summit, Blue Springs and Raymore-Peculiar.
The coaches association also compiled an Elite Eleven team for the opening two weeks of the season.
Liberty placed two players on the team — junior Emma Baldridge, who has recently converted to the Blue Jays’ central defense, and junior forward Grace George, who scored twice in three matches.
Park Hill freshman midfielder Jenna Winebrenner was voted to the team after scoring five times in three matches — all victories for the Trojans.
“Jenna has been a great player for us on both the defensive and offensive side of the ball, showcasing her versatility as a player,” Park Hill coach Brandt Bell said.
Park Hill is also ranked ninth in the Missouri Class 3 state poll.
Kearney is No. 5 in the Missouri Class 2 state poll, and Smithville is No. 8.Mo-Kan golf
Park Hill South settled for seventh place in the prestigious Park Hill South Mo-Kan Invitational last week, which featured some of the best golf teams from both sides of the state line
Blue Valley North won the event with a team score of 323. Liberty placed sixth, led by Sam Parrott, who shot an 84 and finished in 13th place.
Park Hill South, one of eight teams to qualify for the Missouri Class 4 state tournament last season, was led by Nick Sobba, who shot 85 and tied for 16th in the 40-player field.