Two Bobcats named all-state, 4 more all-KVL
Evidently, the Kaw Valley League is a hotbed for baseball in Kansas.
Last week, the Kansas Association of Baseball Coaches released its all-state teams, and eight members of those select squads called the KVL home this spring.
Two of those, Basehor-Linwood's Josh Ishmael and Kyle Speichinger, were particularly close to home, as both Bobcats landed on the 4A first team.
Other members of the team from the Kaw Valley League included Bishop Ward's Sean Beggs, Terry Roblez and Jake Craft, all second-teamers, as well as legendary coach Dennis Hurla, who was named the Kansas 4A coach of the year.
Perry-Lecompton's Drew Tucker found himself voted to the first team outfield and Brian Shivley, of Santa Fe Trail, earned second-team honors on the mound.
Lansing shortstop Chris Wagner also earned all-state honors at the 5A level, rounding out the list of eight from the KVL.
The all-state selection was the second postseason honor for Ishmael and Speichinger, as both also found themselves as first-team selections to the all-Kaw Valley League squad.
Although the league rarely gets credit for having top-notch teams -- or even talent -- Speichinger said this was clearly a sign that the KVL was solid in 2005.
"This just shows that our league was pretty tough this year," Speichinger said. "I mean, we had the 4A state champions, all these all-state guys; it was a good league and it's nice to see it get some recognition."
The all-state nod was made extra special by the fact that Ishmael and Speichinger were picked together. Throughout their careers the two have been joined at the hip, and Ishmael said closing their high school careers with such a special honor was a great way for great friends to go out.
"Anything we do, it seems like we do together," Ishmael said. "I mean, if one of us gets an award, it seems like the other does, too. If one of us hits a home run, then the other has to go out and do it, too."
Those closely associated with the Basehor-Linwood baseball program could not remember the last time a player -- let alone two players -- were selected to the all-state squad.
Although, both said they were shocked and thrilled by the honor, they also said the enormity of the distinction had not yet set in.
"This is probably one of the top two athletic achievements I've ever had," said Ishmael, citing signing a college athletic scholarship as the other. "Awards are just awards, and I definitely wouldn't have been mad if I wasn't all-state, but it sure feels good to have."
Wednesday, Ishmael and Speichinger traveled to Wichita to compete in an annual all-star game that pits all-state squads against one another. That game will mark the official end of Ishmael and Speichinger's high school careers.
Ironically, the two will then head on to college to play football at Butler County Community College. Neither player received a single offer to play college baseball, but both said they would leave the option open should an opportunity arise.
Although Ishmael and Speichinger were the two most celebrated Bobcats on the diamond this year, they weren't the only ones. Senior infielder Lucas Williamson also earned all-league honors for his play as the leader of the Bobcats' infield.
Williamson, a four-year starter for the BLHS infield, had never earned as much as an honorable mention nod on the all-KVL postseason squad. But whether it was with his glove, at the plate or, later, with his leadership, Williamson was consistently solid for his entire career. For that he was rewarded with a second-team selection on this year's squad.
Although Williamson said it was nice to be honored by the league's coaches, as well as along side his teammates, he said the only thing that really mattered to him was winning.
"It's nice to have the recognition," he said. "But I just wanted to win games. The rest really didn't matter."
Williamson has accepted a scholarship to St. Mary University in Leavenworth, where he will continue his baseball career.
Rounding out the Bobcats' all-KVL honors for 2005 was junior Alex Smith.
Smith, known mostly for his potent bat at the plate, earned honorable mention for his play in the outfield.