4 ‘Cats lauded by KVL coaches
The Basehor-Linwood baseball team has spent the past two seasons taking baby steps forward. But if postseason honors are any indication, some Kaw Valley League coaches believe the Bobcats are ready to take a leap ahead next year.
Two of the Bobcats' underclassmen who will be part of the 2009 roster earned first- and second-team honors. In addition, two of the team's seniors earned honorable-mention status.
Sophomore outfielder Tyler Henley was a first-team selection, junior pitcher Justin Gripka made the second team, and senior outfielder Tyler Miles and senior catcher Augie Pierce were the honorable-mention choices.
BLHS coach Dave Svoboda was thrilled to see Miles recognized even though his season was cut short by an injury.
"I felt great for Tyler because the kind of year he had all year," Svoboda said. "The knee problem he had in football cut his season back in effectiveness; it didn't cut it short because he was able to play all the way through, but he probably would've been a lot more effective even though he had a great year. And the same thing in baseball. We obviously would've liked to have him at the end of the season."
Svoboda also was happy to see Pierce recognized, although he thought Pierce deserved higher placement on the league's postseason squad.
"Augie got the most first-team votes of any catcher there," Svoboda said. "He got four first-team votes, but he got no votes from four other coaches at all, so he ends up getting the most first-team votes of anybody and he ends up getting honorable mention. I said it at our banquet too, the best catcher in the league ends up honorable mention."
Svoboda said Gripka and Henley both were deserving of their honors.
"Justin Gripka matured so much this year, and having an ERA under 2 in the league that we play in, it's just a remarkable achievement," Svoboda said. "And Tyler had his batting average up at .500 at one point, and he's going to hit with power and he's only going to get better."
In addition to Gripka and Henley, Svoboda noted that sophomores Brandon Leppke and Ryan Lawless both were honorable-mention selections a year ago, meaning the Bobcats have a young, talented and deep core returning next year.
"The strength of our team is going to be up the middle, and that's a great place to have your strength," Svoboda said. "We've got to fill in behind the plate and on the corners of the outfield and infield, and we can get that done. I think we have a chance to be better again than we were this last year.
"If we can make the same kind of four-game improvement when we went from five regular-season wins last year to nine, if you can get up to 13 in this league then you have a chance to be pretty special."