THS to face new foes next season
Beginning in 2008, Bonner Springs High will play host to an eight-team baseball tournament that will be played at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, home of the Kansas City T-Bones.
Tonganoxie High will be included in the event that will run from April 24-26. Bonner Springs, Basehor-Linwood and Perry-Lecompton will join the Chieftains in representing the Kaw Valley League. Holton, Paola, Spring Hill and St. James will represent non-league schools.
"We've talked for several years about a showcase kind of deal, just trying to match up leagues against each other so it doesn't get so monotonous playing teams from your league," Tonganoxie baseball coach Phil Loomis said. "It gives you a chance to play three straight days in a tournament atmosphere. It ought to build confidence."
Last season, the Chieftains played 18 of their regular-season games against KVL competition.
The idea, which was inspired by the success of Lawrence's annual River City Classic baseball tournament, came to Bonner Springs athletics director Garold Baker while he was reading about the Lawrence tournament this season. The River City Classic also uses CommunityAmerica Ballpark as one of its venues.
"I thought to myself, 'Why don't we do that?' Baker said. "After that, I called up (Bonner Springs baseball coach Rick) Moulin and asked him what he thought about trying to get one started."
Moulin, now a veteran skipper in the Braves' dugout, jumped at the opportunity to give more exposure to his program.
"I think it's helpful to play in a tournament during the season because that will help prepare us for regionals," Moulin said. "This is the first time we've done something like this, and it's going to be an exciting way to change the pace of the season."
Baker said the event would give the athletes a chance to play at a first-class facility.
"T-Bones stadium is just sitting there," Baker said. "For a lot of them, that's as nice a place as they'll ever play, and the more opportunities they have to play there the better."
Although the first pitch is still several months away, Baker said he hoped the four KVL schools and the four other schools each would be seeded separately and paired together in the first round. That would ensure the KVL schools would play at least one game of the tournament against a team from outside the league.
Each team will play one game a day and three games total. Game times have not been established. The games will not count toward league records. And, the tournament has yet to be named.
Although Bonner Springs expects to benefit from the tournament, the school is not in it for the money. BSHS will be given the total gate money from the three days of the tournament, but will have to pay umpires, extra-duty workers and the T-Bones for use of the facility.
"We're hoping, with the gate, that we'll at least break even," Baker said. "But what we've worked out with the other schools is that if we have an additional cost, we'll split that eight ways. At that same time, if we have additional profit, we'll divide that eight ways as well."
The contract with the T-Bones is only for the 2008 tournament. Baker said BSHS has already explored alternate sites should CommunityAmerica Ballpark not be available in future years.
-- Eric Sorrentino contributed to this story.