BLHS baseball plans to take another step forward this year
The Basehor-Linwood baseball team is ready to take another step forward this season with a group of seven seniors who achieved a lot last year.
In 2009, the Bobcats opened up a new stadium, defeated a perennial Class 4A power in Bishop Ward and advanced to the second round of the regional tournament.
The team played consistent baseball for stretches of the year.
Now, the Bobcats plan to take the next step this season.
“I think our team is very excited, but we have to remember that there is a process involved in being ready to win championships,” coach David Svoboda said. “The journey is extremely important. We have to become a tight-knit group to have any real chance to take this thing to the next level.”
The Bobcats want to contend for a Kaw Valley League title, but are focused on the basics of getting better each day.
“We have been really concentrating on the little things a lot, and virtually all the drills have had some built-in competition,” Svoboda said. “We want to be a team that battles you from first pitch to the final out, and that will be behind everything we do.”
The Bobcats have a nucleus of players who have played extensively on varsity for two or more years.
Tyler Henley is the team’s top returning pitcher and offensive threat this season. He had a 0.97 earned run average last season and a 5-1 record. He was an All-Kaw Valley League selection.
“As of right now, Tyler is our ace and that’s not exactly a secret,” Svoboda said. “What that means is that he’ll be facing the top pitchers from other teams and get the other team’s best shot. I think he will embrace that.”
He will lead a staff that will include Austin Stubbs, Destry Bryan, Ryan Lawless and Jeff Johnson.
He leads an experienced pitching staff that is considered the team’s greatest strength.
“I think we can have a very solid pitching staff,” Svoboda said. “We have five guys who may start for us on the mound and we need to figure out who the four in the rotation will be. With Henley and Ryan Lawless at the front end of the staff, and Austin Stubbs joining Jeff Johnson and Destry Bryan, we have some depth and that will be nice.”
The team also returns Nathan Quigley who is bigger and stronger than he was last season.
“We look for good things from him at the plate and on defense,” Svoboda said.
Stubbs will play first base and was an all-league selection last season.
Brandon Leppke and Lawless are also three-year starters entering their fourth seasons and will play important roles.
Leppke, a standout football player, should provide the team with leadership on the infield.
The team also has a pair of new assistant coaches. Brian Lohafer, a former head coach, and Kyle Speichinger, a former all-state catcher and alumni, are returning to coach the team.
“The experience and intensity that these two guys bring will help us immeasurably,” Svoboda said.
The Bobcats open the season at 1 p.m. Saturday against Bishop Ward at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. The junior varsity teams will play at 11 a.m.