New man behind the wheel
Fomer umpire Randall seeks improved program
Ask coaches about the previous season and they tend to focus only on the present.
But a few times this season, Sean Randall has reminded his players about last year's one-win campaign.
"I'm the only one who brings it up," Randall said. "If you're complaining about being here for three hours, then remember going 1 and 19 last year."
Some practices have gone as long as 3 1/2 hours, but the players haven't complained, Randall said. As for the difficult season last year, Randall wasn't even in the Tonganoxie dugout.
After a year away from baseball, the former minor-league umpire is back on the field. From 1994 to 1998, Randall umpired in the AA minor-league class and then coached at Olathe East before coming to Tonganoxie for his first head-coaching position. This summer, Randall will umpire for the independent Kansas City T-Bones.
Tonganoxie lost six seniors to graduation last season -- Pat Weyer, Matt Alexander, Matt Gripka, David Saultz, Matt Tate and Zach Sanders.
This year, THS will have five -- Kyle Mayse, Chuck Riddle, Brad Reischman, James Hartshorn and Travis Plake.
For a team coming back from a dismal season, the schedule won't be the most cooperative.
The Chieftains play state qualifiers Santa Fe Trail and Jeff West. Trail finished 22-4 with a third-place state finish. Jeff West lost in the quarterfinals and ended last year's season 19-4.
Throw in perennial power Basehor-Linwood and the schedule includes some heavyweights.
Despite the competition, Randall is optimistic in the preseason. Early on, he also has seen a few sparks in practice from Mayse and sophomore Josh Putthoff.
Mayse moved from center field to right field this season and Putthoff begins the season as the No. 2 pitcher.
Tonganoxie opened the season Monday in Ottawa.
The Cyclones swept the doubleheader, 13-4 and 12-2.
"They weren't on fire, we just didn't play our game," Randall said. "That's about as cliche as I can get.
"We made some early mistakes that cost us. Pitchers couldn't throw strikes and basically that's what happened."
Tonganoxie will be back in action Monday in its home opener against Jeff West. The doubleheader begins a 4 p.m.