Chieftains: 8-0 not about team’s dominance
An 8-0 record sounds dominant.
That’s where Tonganoxie High’s baseball team stood entering Tuesday’s home game with Turner.
After the Chieftains won three games this past week (7-6 and 4-3 versus Piper and 5-0 at Bonner Springs), though, the team wasn’t feeling supreme.
Coach Phil Loomis said THS isn’t dominant, instead describing the team as blue collar.
“They fight their rear off,” he said.
Work ethic, Loomis explained, has given Tonganoxie its commanding record.
“A lot of the seniors really feel comfortable putting pressure on themselves,” the coach said, adding that others see the way the seniors respond to the self-imposed pressure and mirror their efforts.
Junior Brandon Yoder said the team is more about confidence than dominance.
“If you don’t have confidence, you ain’t gonna do it,” Yoder said. “And that’s one thing our team has a lot of this year.”
With six of the team’s eight wins to open the season coming against Kaw Valley League foes, sophomore Ethan Lorance, who hit a home run against Piper and pitched six shutout innings against Bonner Springs, said the team’s performance comes with a disclaimer.
“I feel like we’re a dominant team in our league but we’ve also started out with some of the easier teams in our league,” Lorance said. “We’ll have to finish strong to stay undefeated.”
Going unblemished for the regular season is a distant goal at this point. Senior Jace Waters, who went 2-for-4 at BSHS with a run and an RBI, said the easy part of the schedule is finished.
“The teams we’ve played, we’ve been dominant, but we’ve got a tough part of our schedule coming up,” Waters said.
The difficult portion of the calendar began on Tuesday against Turner (the game was played after The Mirror’s deadline; go to tonganoxiemirror.com for more) and continues today with a 5 p.m. game at St. James Academy, a team that beat THS, 8-0, last season and has its whole squad returning. The following weekend, the Chieftains will play in an always-tough tournament at CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas City, Kan.
“It’s gonna take a really good ball team to beat us this year,” Waters said.
When or if Tonganoxie loses, Loomis thinks the team will respond positively.
“A loss is not what we measure our team by,” the coach said. “It’s how well we play.”
Even if the Chieftains drop a game this week, he said the team wouldn’t be crushed.
“If we take a step back and play poorly,” Loomis said, “that’s what will hurt us.”