De Soto High School baseball coach Joel Thaemert is confident that his team can make it back to the Kansas Class 4A Division I state tournament. The key, however, will be keeping his players’ minds off of last year’s run.
The Wildcats lost 11 seniors from the 2014 state championship team, which defeated Paola 10-5 to win the championship in Salina. They finished with a 20-4 record.
“Those 11 seniors were the leaders and they were a special group, and it would be tough to replace that, so you don’t,” Thaemert said. “You build a different team with different chemistry. I hope they come out and play loose and have fun.”
The Wildcats were hit the hardest in their pitching rotation, but return the entire outfield, a first baseman, a third baseman and a catcher. The top returner is first baseman Greyson Jenista, who signed with Wichita State and drew the attention of the Twins and Phillies at De Soto’s recent season opener.
“He’s moved up the draft boards over the summer and he will play first, third and closer for us,” Thaemert said. “He is a special player.”
The Wildcats also return center fielder Cooper Lee, who was the leadoff hitter at state; Clayton Hancock, who will pitch first in the rotation and hits for power; and the Freeman twins — Kendall and Devon — who will play left and right field.
Track: Olathe East scouting report
For the first time in 23 years Olathe East High School track and field coach Michael Wallace is headed into the season without a lot of speed on the girls side.
The Hawks lost 100-meter state champion Jasmine Thomas and Kelsey Lathrop, who won the 400- and 800-meter runs at state. But Wallace said Olathe East’s second-place team finish is already a motivator for this year’s squad. The Olathe East boys, meanwhile, are coming off a team championship.
“The kids really care about track and that is pretty motivating for them to be a part of that,” Wallace said. “The kids have stepped in and taken their place and we have had a couple pleasant surprises, so things seem to kind of be falling into place for us.”
Defending state champion AJ Stephens, who won the 110-meter hurdles, will lead the way this season for the Olathe East boys. Teammate Nathan Matters was on the state record setting 1,600-meter relay team.
Kayla Davis, who placed seventh in the 3,200-meter run, will pace the girls early this season.
Boys tennis: BV Northwest ranked first
The Blue Valley Northwest High School boys tennis team earned the Kansas Coaches Association’s first No. 1 ranking of the season. Now, it’s time to see if coach Ted Fabiano’s experienced returners are up to the task.
The Huskies, who won the Eastern Kansas League title and placed second at state last season, return three of their four doubles players from the tournament and top singles player James Lowe. Lowe finished fourth at state last year and his brother, Jonathan, will fill in for Max Katcher and play doubles with Brett White. Katcher and White won the state title last year and Lowe placed third with Yash Mylavarapu.
“They have a lot of experience and I think it will help that a lot of these guys were together for our runs at EKL and state last year,” Fabiano said. “I think that has them a little more bonded and understanding of what it takes.”