Archive for Thursday, April 28, 2011

Braves plan to contend for tourney championship at Butch Foster Classic

The 2009 Butch Foster Memorial Baseball Classic tournament champion St. James Academy Thunder.

The 2009 Butch Foster Memorial Baseball Classic tournament champion St. James Academy Thunder.

April 28, 2011

During the first three years it has played host to the tournament, Bonner Springs High School’s baseball team didn’t advance to the championship game of the Butch Foster Memorial Baseball Classic.

The 2011 Butch Foster Memorial Baseball Classic tournament bracket.

The 2011 Butch Foster Memorial Baseball Classic tournament bracket.

The Braves finished fourth in 2008 and seventh in 2009 and 2010.

Meanwhile, Spring Hill edged St. James Academy for the tournament’s first title while St. James beat the Broncos in the next two championship games.

As the two-time defending champion, St. James will be the team to beat again this year. Bonner Springs hopes to crash the party, however, and compete for a championship for the first time in its home tournament.

“It’s going to be great,” BSHS first baseman Joseph Dooley said. “We can really do something in the tournament. It’s really exciting, because I don’t remember when we’ve been able to do that.”

The tournament begins today and runs through Saturday at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.

The Braves enter the Butch Foster Classic with momentum, too, thanks to a recent hot streak. They’ve won three of their last four games, and the most recent victory came against previously undefeated Mill Valley.

Solid pitching played a major role in the Braves’ recent victories, and BSHS second-year coach Barry Richards said the depth of reliable pitchers would be valuable in the three-day tournament.

“It’s our tournament and we want to be in the championship game,” Richards said. “With four pitchers, we can do that. There are a lot of good teams there, and we’re going to have to play seven innings every night, but if we can do that we can compete. I think the sky’s the limit.”

In addition to steady pitching, Bonner Springs also is swinging its bats with more confidence than it did earlier in the season. The Braves have had a knack for timely hitting during the past two weeks, and they hope it will carry over into the tournament.

“We played some really tough teams at the start of the year, which really tested us,” Dooley said. “That’s going to help us out going forward.”

The tournament features a familiar lineup as the same eight teams return for the fourth straight year. In addition to BSHS, St. James and Spring Hill, teams competing will be Holton, Tonganoxie, Perry-Lecompton, Basehor-Linwood and Paola.

Today’s first round games begin at noon when Spring Hill faces Perry-Lecompton. Holton and Tonganoxie will follow at 2:30 p.m. in the other game on the top half of the bracket. St. James will battle Basehor-Linwood at 5 p.m., and Bonner Springs will face Paola at 7:30 p.m. in the final game of the day.

Championship and consolation semifinals will take place Friday, and final games will be played Saturday. The championship game is slated for 7:30 p.m. Saturday. If games are rained out, the tournament will conclude on Sunday.

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