Category Archives: baseball

Newman baseball chasing school history


Here’s my feature on the Newman University baseball team from – it will run in Thursday’s Eagle. Interesting to watch the evolution of this team over the last two years under coach Zane Ehling, a Hutch native who also played for Butler Community College and Newman. Ehling’s grass-root recruiting efforts are paying big dividends for the Jets – 26 of the 32 players on the Newman roster have Kansas connections either via high school, the Jayhawk Conference or both. And their top guys – pitchers Brandon Droge (Topeka  Hayden/Johnson CC), Kyle Burkhardt (Topeka Highland Park/Highland CC) and catcher Ruben Marrero (Cowley) are all prime examples of that.

The Jets have a home game next Tuesday against Emporia State that should draw a pretty big crowd to McCarthy Field – where fans, for the first time, have real bleachers to sit in.

Also, here’s an article by Eagle correspondent Paige Feikert on the Newman women’s bowling team heading to the national tournament.



Sunflower Slate Q&A – Tabor baseball coach Mark Standiford


The Tabor College baseball team has become one of the best in the KCAC over the last two seasons, and a big reason for the Bluejays’ success has been fourth-year coach Mark Standiford, 46, who still holds the Wichita State career home-run record. Standiford was nice enough to sit down for a chat with The Eagle and Sunflower Slate.

Tabor, ranked No. 17 in the nation is currently 31-5 overall and 15-1 in the KCAC headed into this weekend’s 4-game series with Kansas Wesleyan – here’s the article I wrote on Tabor 3B Adam McCormick that ran in today’s Eagle. McCormick, a senior from Pittsburg, leads the nation with a .520 batting average.

Here’s our talk with Standiford:

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Hutch CC’s Robert Goff to Oklahoma, Joe Mitchell to Ohio U.



Just got off the phone with Hutchinson Community College men’s coach Steve Eck (hopefully he doesn’t change his cell number now) and he confirmed to me that sophomore guard Joe Mitchell, a Wichita Southeast product, committed to Ohio University earlier this week and 6-foot-10 power forward Robert Goff is committed to Oklahoma. Mitchell was All-Jayhawk last season and picked Bobcats over several other “good offers” although Eck declined to say who else came calling. Recruiting guru Jerry Mullen told me at last year’s Region VI tournament that JM was a “poor man’s Sherron Collins” – AKA he can really fill it up. Goff had to sit out last year after playing for Eck two years ago at Cowley and is a BEAST that had looks from a lot of high-majors.

Goff averaged 9.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game in 2008-2009. Mitchell went for 16 points and 2.5 assists per last season.

Blue Dragons are hands-down favorite to win Jayhawk and Region VI this year with those two, in my opinion.

Out. TA

Hutch CC outfielder dies in grain elevator collapse



Sad news today out of Russell — one of the two men killed in the collapse of a grain elevator was Hutchinson Community College freshman outfielder Sean Banks, 19, of Russell. Here’s the link to the story from the Hutch News.

Banks played in 1 game for the Blue Dragons this season as HCC made its way to a Region VI title and third place at the NJCAA World Series. Thoughts and prayers go out to the Banks family and the family of Max Greve, who also died in the accident.

Here’s the official statement from HCC:


By Steve Carpenter

HCC Sports Information Director

Hutchinson Community College freshman outfielder Sean Banks was one of two men killed on Thursday in a grain elevator collapse in Banks’ home town of Russell, Kan.

Banks and Fort Hays State University student Max Greve, both employed at the Russell grain elevator, were killed when a portion of the structure collapsed while both were unloading a semi filled with grain.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to Sean’s family during this tragic time,” HCC head coach Kyle Crookes said Thursday evening. “Sean was a tremendous young man who was a great teammate. We will miss him but Sean will always be a Blue Dragon.”

HCC president Dr. Ed Berger called the tragedy “A great loss.”

Banks was a freshman outfielder from Russell who played in just one game during HCC’s 2010 Region VI championship team that finished third at the 2010 NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., earlier this month.

In addition to playing on the Blue Dragon baseball team, Banks was heavily involved in other HCC student activities, including student government and was the 2010 HCC Spring Homecoming King.


Friends hires Adam Neisius as baseball coach



The disaster that was the Friends University baseball team in 2010 was something to behold. 0-22 in KCAC play. 3-37 overall. A 29-game losing streak to end the year. Keep in mind that’s just three years removed from a KCAC title. Throw in the fact that the best baseball talent in Kansas resides in their backyard … and you get the picture.They were as bad as any team in the history of the league.

But there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel.

Friends hired Adam Neisius as its new baseball coach Tuesday, and it seems like he should be a good fit … but he’s obviously got his work cut out for him. Dude has been a head coach before — at Dakota Wesleyan from 1998 to 2008 — so that bodes well for the Falcons. Chris Elliott is all over this one for a story in Wednesday’s Eagle, and I’ll link to it here when it goes up online. We’ll also get a Q&A with the new coach up here sometime in the next week.

Out. TA.

Fort Hays State hires Steve Johnson away from Butler



Steve Johnson is leaving El Dorado for the WK.

Fort Hays State hired the Butler Community College baseball coach away from the Grizzlies today, and this seems like a great move for Johnson. He’s done what he needed to do (win, win, win some more) at BuCo to get an opportunity like this, so when said opportunity comes along you need to take it. He can win at FHSU, where they haven’t been able to achieve the same rare air they were breathing since Bob Fornelli left … but the FHSU administration seems to be willing to put $$$ behind the product it puts on the field. On the flip side, the MIAA is a tough nut to crack and he’s got his work cut out for him.

BJ McVay takes over at Butler, btw.

Here’s the full release from FHSU.


Disappointing finish for ESU baseball, softball


Seems weird to write that a team had a disappointing finish when they both DID make it to an NCAA Regional … but I think, in this case, it fits.

As far as the baseball team goes, the amount of success Emporia State has had under Bob Fornelli is really incredible — he’s single-handedly turned the Hornets into one of the elite teams in NCAA Division II.  But I think even he would admit (I hope he would admit, anyways) that one year after finishing as the national runner-up, the preseason No. 1 team in America, with a handful of preseason All-Americans … that this team came up short. No MIAA regular-season title, no MIAA Tournament title, and then this. Was it the weight of expectations? Only the people in the locker room know for sure. But I can’t help but think this wasn’t in line with what they had planned for the season.

The ESU softball team is more of a hard-luck tale. Their greatest disappointment has got to come from losing in an NCAA Regional that they’re hosting — compounded by the fact that both losses came to the same team, Angelo State, and both came after blowing leads. In this case, the expecations didn’t come so much before the season as during it, when the Hornets blistered the rest of the MIAA, winning both regular season and league tourney titles. Here’s the thing about ESU, though … they bring almost everybody back, including both ace freshman pitchers in Paige Ladenburger and Jennifer Heerey. If I were a betting man (which I’m not) I’d say they’d be a no-brainer top 5 pick next year and one of the prohibitive favorites to win the 2011 national title. That’s just too much firepower coming back.


Pair of Newman coaches resign

Newman women’s basketball coach Tracy Anderson and Newman baseball coach Leonard Rau both resigned Monday. Anderson was to be expected — the Jets have been terrible the last two years and have shown zero improvement. I think with the right hire that could be one of the elite teams in the Heartland — Lord knows there’s enough talent between area high schools and the Jayhawk Conference to make put together a competitive team. But first they need to find a coach. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Newman AD Vic Trilli go after one of the elite Jayhawk coaches, either.

Rau was a little more surprising. Fifteen or so games into the season … that’s an unusual time to cut bait because of personal reasons. Assistant Zane Ehling is the interim guy.

I’ve got a story coming out in tomorrow’s Eagle about the whole deal, including a pretty insightful quote from Trilli. Regarding personell issues … these things are always touchy, and I was happy he was at least willing to talk to me.


New home for Friends baseball



This seems like it works on all fronts — Friends will lease West Side Athletic Field as its new home. Here’s why it’s good — it saves the city money because Friends is responsible for maintenance and it gives the Falcons a true home stadium right up close and personal to their campus. Westurban was just too far away.

And on that note … what Friends has become over the last 10-15 years, to me, is amazing. It went from being an afterthought to — in my opinion — one of the most appealing schools in the KCAC as far as recruiting and appeal to the prep athletes that get on their radar. This speaks directly to that. I’ll be interested to see the WSAF after Friends gets to deck it out.

Here’ s the release from the school:

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ESU baseball grabs No. 1 in new poll

I don’t know if this should come as a suprise, but the Emporia State baseball team is opening up the season as No. 1 in at least one poll — the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. I wouldn’t be surprised if they catch this spot in a couple of more polls before things get started, either. With that pitching back … they’re gonnna be tough to beat. And then there’s Kenny Burkhead. And then there’s Bob Fornelli. Here’s the full release from ESU and the Top 25 rankings after the jump … Happy Holidays:

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