Archive for Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bonner Springs to host baseball tourney in ‘08

Basehor-Linwood High School one of four league schools included in inaugural field

June 20, 2007

With a successful basketball tournament already in the bag, the Bonner Springs High School athletic department is at it again.

Beginning in 2008, the Bonner Springs Braves will host an eight-team baseball tournament that will initially be played at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, home of the Kansas City T-Bones. The event will run from April 24-26 and will be played entirely at CommunityAmerica.

The idea, which was inspired by the success of Lawrence's annual River City Classic baseball tournament, came to BSHS athletic director Garold Baker while he was reading a recap about the Lawrence tournament this season. The River City Classic also uses CommunityAmerica Ballpark as one of its venues.

"It just sort of hit me when I was reading about that deal in the paper," Baker said. "I thought to myself, 'Why don't we do that?' After that, I called up (Braves baseball coach Rick) Moulin and asked him what he thought about trying to get one started."

Moulin, now a veteran skipper in the Braves' dugout, jumped at the opportunity to give more exposure to his program.

"I think it's exciting for our kids and the community to play a tournament at a venue like that," he said. "But more importantly, I think it's helpful to play in a tournament during the season because that will help prepare us for regionals.

"This is the first time we've done something like this and it's going to be an exciting way to change the pace of the season."

In addition to using the format to bring some excitement to baseball season, Baker said hosting the event would give the athletes a chance to play at a first-class facility.

"T-Bones stadium is just sitting there," Baker said. "And this gives the kids the opportunity to play there. For a lot of them, that's as nice a place as they'll ever play, and the more opportunities they have to play there the better. It's just awesome."

The inaugural edition of the tournament will feature four Kaw Valley League teams and four non-league teams. Basehor-Linwood, Perry-Lecompton and Tonganoxie will join the Braves in representing the KVL while Holton, Paola, Spring Hill and St. James will represent the non-league schools. Although the first pitch is still several months away, Baker said he hopes that the four KVL schools and the four non-league schools will each be seeded separately and paired together in the first round. That, Baker said, would ensure that the KVL schools would play at least one game of the tournament against a non-league school.

Each team will be guaranteed one game a day and three games total. Baker said game times had not been established yet but he expects that the first game of each day will begin around noon or 1 p.m., with the final game of the day getting under way around 6 or 7 p.m.

Although BSHS expects to benefit from the exposure of the tournament, the school is not in it for the money. BSHS will be given the total gate money from the three days of tournament and will have to pay umpires, extra-duty workers and the T-Bones for use of the stadium.

"We're hoping, with the gate, that we'll at least break even," Baker said. "But what we've worked out with the other schools is that if we have an additional cost, we'll split that eight ways. At that same time, if we have additional profit, we'll divide that eight ways as well."

Baker said he hopes the Braves baseball tournament will enjoy the same success that the BSHS boys and girls basketball tournament has during its three years of existence. But he admitted that questions surrounding the venue might make that a difficult goal to achieve. The contract with the T-Bones is only for the 2008 tournament and Baker said the school has already explored alternate sites should CommunityAmerica Ballpark not be available in future years.

However, despite the uncertainty surrounding the future home of the tournament, BSHS officials are eager and excited to fire out the first pitch next season.

"We're very excited about this," Baker said. "And we hope it will be as popular as our basketball tournament has been. That would be great, but we can't say that's going to happen when we don't have control over the facilities."

The tournament has yet to be named.

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