Tonganoxie baseball looking to regain 1990s form
From 1993 to 1997, the Tonganoxie High School baseball team won five Kaw Valley League championships in a row.
During the first four of those championships, the team was undefeated in league play.
Chris Herron has coached the boys baseball team since its inception in 1990. In his 11th season, he said he's hopeful that the team will improve from a 9-8 finish in 1999.
"We're top and bottom heavy," he said of this season's team.
What he meant is that he has several players who have started for two or three years and a bunch of players with little or no experience. Gardner-Edgerton will test the mix of veterans and rookies Friday.
Tonganoxie has several returners who will contribute. Doug Schneider, who was 3-2 as a starter last season, is a senior who pitches and plays first base.
He's joined by senior Eric Whitner, a short stop and catcher who hit .286 and had three home runs last season.
Junior Jared Walters plays third base and will pitch some. He hit .314 last season.
Senior John Barnes will bring the strongest arm on the team into a starting position in right field.
Junior Kyle Rodell, the fastest player on the team, will start in centerfield in his third season as a starter.
Zach Sanders, while only a sophomore, will catch the Tonganoxie pitchers. He has the potential to be one of Tonganoxie's best catchers ever, according to Herron.
Among the new faces expected to see playing time will be Kyle Wedel at second base and Brandon Harsh in the outfield and pitching.
Harsh transferred to Tonganoxie this season. Herron said Harsh throws hard.
Herron said Piper is the league favorite. The Pirates return seven of nine starters from a team that won the league last season. Piper's first-team all-league pitcher returns.
Tonganoxie finished third in the KVL last year with a 4-2 record.
Despite a lack of experience at some positions and a lack of depth, Herron is optimistic about how his team will play this year.
"I think we'll be a little better than we were last year," Herron said.
He said the difference between a mediocre season and the league championships the team has won in the past is the attitude of the players.
"It's about the type of kid," Herron said.
To be successful, the athletes have to have the mentality and drive to want to succeed. Winning and team success have to be important to several individuals, Herron said.