Kansas high school softball and baseball state tournaments will take place Thursday and Friday at various sites. Here are five storylines to watch during the event’s action.
1. Olathe qualifies four in Class 6A
After dominating the Sunflower League by taking the top four spots with a combined 37-7 record, all four Olathe high schools qualified for the Class 6A tournament at Rock Chalk Park in Lawrence.
The only downside to the bracketing is that Olathe South and Olathe East will have to play each other in the quarterfinals at 11 a.m. on Thursday. The winner will advance to play either Olathe North or Gardner Edgerton, who play at 1 p.m. Olathe Northwest will face Derby at 3 p.m. on the other side of the bracket.
Watch for all-American catchers Reagan Hathaway of Olathe Northwest and Maddie McCracken on Olathe North to have big weekends.
2. Strong pitching driving the Lancers
Despite starting the Sunflower League season 1-2, the Shawnee Mission East baseball team won a share of the title with a lift from a couple veterans on the mound.
Joey Wentz, who is headed to Virginia, and Max Sanborn, who is committed to Pittsburg State, lead a group that boasted a 1.20 ERA through the regular season.
The Lancers enter the Class 6A tournament at Hoglund Stadium in Lawrence as the top seed with an 18-4 record. The Lancers allowed just one run in regional play to outscore opponents 17-1 and knock off defending champion Blue Valley. They will face Junction City at 11 a.m. on Thursday.
3. Three double qualifiers
The Kansas State High School Activities Association made a point to put softball and baseball in the same place for each classification and three metro-area schools may benefit from the proximity.
In Class 6A, Olathe South qualified both its teams and they will play in Lawrence. BV West did the same in Class 5A, which will take place in Wichita, and both Piper squads will play in Salina.
4. Heritage Christian Academy making state a habit
For the second straight season, the Heritage Christian Academy baseball team is headed to the Class 2-1A state tournament.
The Chargers will head to the Great Bend Sports Complex at the seventh seed with a 10-13 record. They will play second-seeded Medicine Lodge in the site’s third game of the day which is scheduled for 30 minutes after the previous game ends.
5. McLouth coming in hot
The McLouth softball team was shutout in a shortened first round game at last year’s Class 2-1A state tournament, but this time around the team has a good chance to go deeper.
The Bulldogs enter as the No. 5 seed with a 19-4 record and play Yates Center in the quarterfinals. Yates Center is also 19-4.
McLouth took a first round by in its regional, battled Troy for a 5-3 victory and shutout Wabaunsee 10-0 to take the title.