Varsity Baseball

Young team arriving ahead of schedule after beating rival

Campus junior Tyler Kahmann is helping the Colts to a bit of unexpected success in the 2018 baseball season.
Campus junior Tyler Kahmann is helping the Colts to a bit of unexpected success in the 2018 baseball season. Courtesy of Campus athletics

Bryan Clasen had his share of opportunities to get upset last season, but he held back.

He knew success was on its way.

Clasen, the Campus baseball coach, led the Colts to a 6-14 record last year. Now with five games left to play, Campus has almost doubled its win total and has a chance to win the league.

The Colts were young; that was why Clasen held back his emotions in 2017.

"I can only think of one or two times where I got upset with a kid last year," he said. "It's just patience. You gotta understand they are young kids and just keep believing."

Don't be fooled. Going through the Campus roster this season, the team is still young. With only one senior is consistently in the starting lineup, one thing is clear:

The Colts are arriving a little ahead of schedule.

"It usually takes a kid a year to figure out the varsity-level," Clasen said. "We kept telling them, 'Buy your time. Buy your time. It will happen. One of these days we're gonna get over the hump, and we will figure out how to win.'

"They've figured it out this year."

Campus started the season with two losses to Eisenhower, two of the Tigers' three wins this season. That lit a fire. The games were on the road, but the Colts were outscored 12-4.

In the two games, Campus committed 10 errors.

"It was just like a snowball," junior Tyler Kahmann said. "We were playing with so much pressure, but we are playing with confidence now."

Since that doubleheader March 29, the Colts are 10-3. They swept Hutchinson, Arkansas City and Newton.

They split with Salina Central, the league leaders. And Monday, they won a game that was even more meaningful, at least for Kahmann.

He hadn't beaten rival Derby in any of his three sports since he started at Campus. The Colts came close in all three - football, basketball and baseball - but couldn't break through.

Monday, after getting run-ruled in the first game of a doubleheader, Campus won 11-4.

"Sometimes we don't have the best recognition," Kahmann said. "People don't perceive us as good. They look at us like, 'Oh, it's just Campus. It's going to be an easy win.' So it's nice to finally get that respect and beat those guys."

Clasen has been at Campus for 18 years. He said baseball has always been one of the only sports in which the rivalry has swung the other way.

But Clasen said in the past two years, the Panthers have had their number. So Monday was a good sign that the Colts still had the juice.

"They are a great team," he said. "They've got some kids that can play. They've been to the state tournament three years in a row."

A lot of the Colts' success this season has come at the plate.

Sophomore Tanner Leslie leads off and tied the season record for triples Monday with his sixth. Jack Hartley bats third and was named to the league's honorable mention team last season. Mateo Martinez committed to Wichita State as a freshman and bats better than .400. And Kahmann has filled in at shortstop and bats about .500.

Campus has shown the ability to beat some of the best in the Wichita area. Salina Central and Arkansas City have been among the most consistent, and Derby has some high caliber wins this season.

The Colts are a half game back in the AVCTL I standings. They have the toughest part of their schedule behind them, and Salina Central still has to play doubleheaders against Derby and Maize on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Campus hasn't won a baseball state championship since 1991 and haven't qualified for state since 2015. The Colts aren't putting the cart before the horse.

But they have positioned themselves nicely to finish the job, and that is something Kahmann said he is chasing.

"I really want to put a banner up in the gym," Kahmann said. "That would mean the world to all of us."