Bobcat baseball well represented on competitive teams
A new era has begun for Basehor-Linwood high school baseball and this summer will give fans a chance to see what the future will bring.
With the naming of Dave Svoboda as the new full-time head baseball coach earlier this month, the Basehor American Legion team coached by Svoboda will also give his players additional time to adapt to the team's new style.
"It wasn't that difficult to get used to him because some of us had him as a JV coach," junior Garrett Chumley said. "But weren't really used to his practices which were a lot more comfortable. We were wearing sweatpants and t-shirts instead of full baseball gear. That really helped us get used to his style of coaching because we were comfortable out there."
A season after losing several seniors and barely missing a trip to the state tournament, the Bobcat baseball team had a down season, finishing 8-13. But with 23 players returning, Chumley said the team is confident of a return to past success.
"We're going to have a handful of returning starters and we're going to have depth in our starting pitching," he said. "We have guys that can hit for power and we have a bunch of contact hitters. We have a pretty well-rounded team."
Of the 23 players eligible to play next year, 15 are playing this summer and 11 of those are playing on Svoboda's team. Svoboda said the team will play 23 to 24 games this summer, but hopes to play 40 games in the future.
"More than anything, these games give us a chance to gain experience," he said. "This past high school season we had a bunch of young players that didn't have a lot of experience. We're going to try and get as many chances for our pitchers to pitch and our hitters to hit."
The team will face off against teams from all over Northeast Kansas, including Lansing, Topeka, Paola and Olathe, as well as teams from Missouri. Having a chance to face live hitting and pitching is another key aspect of the summer season, Svoboda said.
"We're not playing as many games as I want to right now," he said. "The more chances we give our pitchers to see live hitting in games, the better they will be for the high school season."
In addition to being on Svoboda's team, several are playing on other travelling teams in the area. Senior Josh Ishmael, who was named to the All-Kaw Valley League First Team as an infielder and to the honorable mention team as a pitcher, will be playing with the KC Royals.
Joining him will be Senior Alex Smith, who played catcher and designated hitter for the Bobcats this past season. Both Ishmael and Smith have played for the team since they were 10 years old. The duo has continued to play with the Royals because of the high quality of opposition, Ishmael said.
"It's a lot more competition than in a lot of the other leagues around the area," Ishmael said. "We're playing against some of the best teams in the nation."
The team will be playing around 35-45 games this summer, Ishmael said, and will be facing off against some of the top teams in the area. He said during the week they play against 18 and under teams. On weekends they play in 16 and under tournaments as far away as Nebraska and Colorado, and the team placed first in a wood bat tournament in Liberty, Mo. and third in its tournament in Nebraska.
Even those players not playing for a summer baseball team will be staying busy this summer. Svoboda said some of his players are playing football and basketball this summer and staying in shape for the upcoming year.
"This summer we're really just trying to get our feet wet and ready for next year," he said. "We're playing in more USSSA tournaments than we are in Legion games, but as we get some experience we'll be playing more and more games."