Varsity Kansas

Mulvane baseball’s hopes high with plenty of returners

Conner Dempsey of the Mulvane High School baseball team, practices in the school's gymnasium during spring break. (March 23, 2012)
Conner Dempsey of the Mulvane High School baseball team, practices in the school's gymnasium during spring break. (March 23, 2012) The Wichita Eagle

Last year’s graduation stole only two starters from Mulvane’s 16-5 baseball team, allowing the Wildcats hope for another successful season.

The team finished first in Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division III last season, and with the return of seven starters, plan to make a similar run this year.

“We come in with the expectation of being able to be successful right away because we brought back seven of nine starters from last year,” Mulvane coach Daniel Myears said. “I hope that experience will carry over and turn into some early success.

“Now will we have road bumps? Sure, every team does, but hopefully that will be a stepping stone for us to not have to have a huge learning curve for the first six to eight games.”

The returners are all experienced. Mulvane returns three senior starters and four junior starters.

“I think that will benefit us against the teams that aren’t real experienced,” senior Michael Bird said. “Our varsity team’s been playing varsity since, most of us since our sophomore year. I think that will help us out a lot in the close games.”

Each of Mulvane’s seven returning starters earned all-league recognition last season.

“As long as our kids just try to play fundamental baseball and not worry about individual stats, and worry about moving runners, and worry about hitting line drives instead of home runs, we should just jump right on board with where we were last year,” Myears added.

The two players lost to graduation pitched 70 of Mulvane’s 140 innings, giving new faces opportunities on the mound. Returning senior Connor Dempsey was 6-1 with a 4.45 ERA from last season.

“We have to throw balls that are in play, and not walk people. Every , every coach doesn’t want walks,” Myears said. “We’ve got a rule: If there are two outs, nobody’s getting a free bag. We’ve got to be tough enough to throw strikes and trust our defense behind us to make plays.”

Myears said Mulvane’s middle infield will be its strongest this season. Bird returns at second base, along with Ty Redington at shortstop, both all-league players.

This Mulvane team has not only played baseball together before, but other sports as well. The closeness between its players will be important to Mulvane throughout this season, according to Myears.

“Our football season was very special and this core group is that way, our basketball season was special, and the core of the team is basketball players,” Myears said. “They’re athletic, they like to play baseball, they’re a lot of fun to be around.”