Chieftains baseball coach looks for leadership
The Tonganoxie High baseball team has seen better days.
The Chieftains lost each of their first six games, and the last four were all by six runs or more.
THS dropped to 0-6 on the season with an 11-4 home loss to rival Basehor-Linwood on Thursday.
While Tonganoxie showed a little offensive production — Ben Williams, Dylan Caywood, Dylan Puhr, Brandon Yoder, Ethan Lorance, Dalton Harrington, Jeremy Wagner and Austin Hrabe all reached base with a hit — against BLHS, such relative success hasn’t been the norm.
And even though the Chieftains had eight players hit, only Williams, who doubled and drove in two of the team’s four runs, finished with a multi-hit game (he was 2-for-3 at the plate).
THS coach Phil Loomis said the biggest issue in the season-opening skid has been a lack of leadership.
“The few returning people, our leadership, the people who need to step up, haven’t stepped up,” he said.
To make matter’s worse, Loomis said, no one has tried to fill that role. He has warned the team it can’t “ho-hum it” and expect things to turn around.
Tonganoxie scored 27 runs in its first six games. Offense has been a weakness because just a few hitters have been consistent. Yoder leads the team with a .538 average in 13 at bats, while Caywood was at .429 with 21 at bats and Williams hit .333 in 18 at bats. But they haven’t had many chances to drive runs home.
“When you only have four or five that you’re really counting on and only two of those are really clicking, its tough,” Loomis said, noting the bottom of the lineup has struggled.
It’s going to take a team effort to get things moving in a positive direction. Loomis said players who have struggled have at least one good example on the team to follow.
“Dylan Caywood started off with a bad first game and turned it around. We need guys to mirror him,” the coach said. “We’ve had nobody really showing extreme leadership where the guys below them can say, ‘Hey, I want to be like this guy.’”
Pitching, too, has been an issue. Loomis said the hurlers on the hill haven’t been consistently throwing strikes and that problem has had a snowball effect.
“If a pitcher has a bad inning, loses concentration, walks somebody, the whole team falls apart behind him,” lamented Loomis.
The Chieftains play Tuesday at Turner, in Kansas City, Kan. They have a home game with St. James Academy at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds.