Varsity Kansas

Derby, Eisenhower make long-awaited state baseball appearances

Area state baseball teams

Class 6A

Heights (19-3) – The Falcons are excelling in all phases coming off of a 6-3 win over Maize in the regional final. Grant Watkins (.397, 3 HR, 23 RBIs), Josh Farrington (.321, 17 RBIs, 10 doubles), and Curtis Whitten (.388, 21 RBIs, 4 triples) lead the offense. Jordan Plank (5-0) is the ace with a 2.65 ERA, 50 strikeouts and on only eight walks. The Falcons lost in the first round of the 6A tournament last year to Olathe South.

Northwest (17-5) — The Grizzlies started on an eight-game winning streak, swept Maize and defeated East to end the regular season and secure a No. 2 regional seed. Northwest’s pitching staff is led by senior Mitch McIntyre (6-1, 0.56 ERA, 74 strikeouts to 14 walks). It’s offense has timely hitting, led by Jared Gates (.612, 11 RBIs), Blake Standiford (.339, 11 RBIs) and Gavin Darr (.333, 10 RBIs). After losing the first game in its regional to Hutchinson last year, the Grizzlies defeated Hutchinson in this year’s regional final to advance to state.

Class 5A

Carroll (20-1) — After losing the first game to Heights, Carroll won 20 straight. A number of starters were on last year’s championship team. Braden Larkey (7-0, 1.80 ERA, 47 strikeouts), Jordan Miller (6-1, 1.51 ERA), and Matt Henning (1-0, 1.17 ERA) lead the pitching staff. Carroll’s offense is hitting .416, led by John Buchanan (.500, 18 RBIs), Bryce Fischer (.476, 16 RBIs), Mack Gowing (.468, 17 RBIs), and Bryce Whitchurch (.423, 35 RBIs).

Andover Central (16-4) — The Jaguars are on an eight-game winning streak, averaging only one error since their loss to Maize South in the middle of the season. Lucas Milner leads the pitching staff (8-0, 1.63 ERA, 40 strikeouts), with help from Kyle Meares (3-0) and Tyler Harris (2-0). Milner also leads the offense (.435), along with Kier Stamp (.403, 25 RBIs), Blake Meier (.375), and Meares (.340).

Maize South (15-3) — The Mavericks fell in the first game of regionals last season in 4A, but in their first season in 5A, they are in the state tournament with a key 12-8 regional final win over Salina Central. The team is led by Wes Phillips (.462, 23 RBIs), Kane McCarthy (.411, 21 RBIs; 4-0, 2.81 ERA), Alex Orth (.404, 26 RBIs; 3-2, 1.31 ERA), and Micah Kiser (.346, 15 RBIs).

Class 4A

Circle (16-7) — Circle set a school record for wins this season. Circle started four freshmen, four sophomores and one senior this season. The pitching staff is led by sophomore Garrett Hutson (6-1, 0.68 ERA), who led the league and the state in strikeouts with 82 to eight walks. Hutson is also hitting .471, and combined with freshmen Kaden Fowler (.493, .532 OBA), Gavin Hutson (.417, 21 RBIs), Tanner White (.350) and senior Alan Longshaw (.338, 24 RBIs) carry Circle’s offense.

Andale (21-1) — Andale won three games in its regional against Buhler, Smoky Valley and McPherson in a combined 31-0 effort. The team hit .459 while pitching 16 innings and allowing no runs, eight hits, getting 25 strikeouts with four walks. Andale went on a 10-game winning streak to start the season before losing to Clearwater, winning every game since. The team is hitting .380.

Pratt (16-5) — Pratt finished fourth in the state tournament in 2011, and with seven starting seniors, it has state tournament experience. The team is led by Garret Smith (.474, 19 RBIs), Easton Herring (.355, 22 RBIs), Jarod Gilmore (.390), Mitchell Baird (.375) and Drake Evert (.415, 24 RBIs).

Class 3A

Lyons (18-3) — The past three years, Lyons has lost the first game of regionals, but its young roster defeated Scott City 11-8 and Lakin 7-1 to get to state. Pitching has been a strength for Lyons, with Ryan McClure (5-0, 0.33 ERA, 46 strikeouts), Grady Kirkhart (5-1, 2.38 ERA, 31 strikeouts) and Cole Brady (5-1, 4.48 ERA, 35 strikeouts) making up the pitching staff. Lyons has four players hitting over .400, including Brady (.472), McClure (.463), Dakota Nave (.444) and Matt Vincent (.405).

Marion (16-5) — After 17 school-record wins last year without reaching state, Marion is looking to improve this year. Marion is coming off of a close win over Halstead in the regional final, when the Warriors trailed 8-6, and nine-hole hitter Zach Robson (.400) drove in two with two outs. Shortstop Dylan Seacat (.359) drove in Robson for the win. Marion is led by 1B Taylor Heidebrecht (.479, 24 RBIs), pitcher Grif Case (.464, 21 RBIs, 2.69 ERA, 26 strikeouts), and pitcher Ethan Hett (5-0, 2.29 ERA, 44 strikeouts).

Wichita Independent (22-1) — While both Independent and Sedgwick were undefeated, the teams met and split, but Independent defeated Sedgwick 15-5 in its regional final one week later. This will be Independent’s third consecutive state appearance. The team ERA is 2.46, led by Scott Spiker (7-0, 2.1 ERA, 45 strikeouts), Matt Loveland (5-1, 2.6 ERA, 45 strikeouts) and Wesley Riedmiller (6-0, 3.50 ERA). The offense is led by seniors Kevin Jarvis (29 RBIs), Ben Strickfaden (21 RBIs) and Garret Hupman (17 RBIs).

Class 2-1A

Medicine Lodge (9-10) — The team is led by catcher Logan Bertholf (.483), shortstop Joel Clarke (.507), second baseman Scott Beecher (.413), and outfielder Gage Axline (.407).

Inman (12-9) — Inman started the season 3-7, but key wins over Sacred Heart and Marion late in the season helped. The offense is led by Layne Richert (.450, 23 RBIs), Treyton DeVore (.390, 27 RBIs), Taylor Almquist (.370, 19 RBIs) and Brock Lucas (.362, 25 stolen bases).

Sedan (19-3) — Sedan won its league for the sixth consecutive year, and is on a 12-game winning streak. Sedan was runnerup last year at state, and won in 2011. Senior Austin Filtingberger (6-2) set a school record with 146 strikeouts. The team is also led by Douglas Cummings (.254), Jacob Chrisman (.229), Zane Mills (7-0, 101 strikeouts), Brace Unruh (.333, 15 RBIs) and Tyler Holt (.387, 15 RBIs).

By this point in the season, a record doesn’t mean much more than the seeding in the state tournament. At least that’s the message Derby baseball coach Todd Olmstead is telling his team.

The Panthers will make their first state appearance since 2001, entering their game Friday against Heights with a 9-11 record.

“There’s nothing for us to lose, everyone else has something to prove that we don’t. We’re supposed to lose,” Olmstead said. “We’re still going to take the us-against-the-world attitude because it’s worked so far.”

Eisenhower (10-11) is also going to the state tournament with a losing record, facing returning Class 5A champion Bishop Carroll in the first game.

“We want to go out there and we want to compete, we know we can play the game of baseball. It’s just a matter of who’s going to get to the next round,” Eisenhower coach Thomas Campa said.

Derby had an up and down season, with its two wins at regionals being its first sweep of the season.

Eisenhower started with an 0-5 record while trying to solidify a lineup and a pitching staff.

Both Derby and Eisenhower got out of difficult regionals, with Derby upsetting Campus (12-7) and East (14-7), and Eisenhower upsetting Hays (15-6) and defeating Newton (7-13) to advance.

“I don’t think any of us really truly believed that this was going to happen,” Derby’s Olmstead said. “Both Campus and East are really good teams. My expectations were to win the first one and to be competitive in the second one and build on that for next year.”

Last time Derby went to state, it was the top seed and won the tournament. In Eisenhower’s second season as a program, this state tournament will be its first.

“We didn’t make it to state last year, we got beat out of our regional against Hays,” Campa said. “It was great to play them again and to go out there with more experience, and we had a good pitching staff. Coming out with a win this year was a big plus for us.”

Eisenhower’s defense will rely on middle infielders Dalton Meyer and Dylan Kuhn, as well as freshman Dalton Dinkel at catcher, first base or pitcher. Freshman Braden Minor (4-1, 3.22 ERA) will be important on the mound. Offensively, Eisenhower will rely on Bryce Minor (.286), Jacob Richardson (.279), Levy Hacker (.316), Jacob Gibson (.349) and Trevor Hughes (.375).

Derby’s Garrett Rankin is coming off of a game-winning grand slam against Campus, and the save on the mound. Rankin also got the win and a two-run homer against East. Rankin is 3-1 as a pitcher and is hitting .450.

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