Coming off one of its best seasons in 15 years, the Barton baseball seems poised for another good campaign.
At least there is a foundation for another good season.
The Cougars will return three players with All Jayhawk West honors, including the Pitcher of the Year in the conference.
“It’s a good place to start,” Coach Brent Biggs said. “We have two guys back from our weekend rotation, including the Pitcher of the Year. We’ve added a solid transfer starter as well, so we are just needing to fill one spot in that weekend rotation.”
Barton went 42-18 overall last year and 21-11 in the West, good for a tie for second with Dodge City. Hutchinson won the West at 26-6. That earned Biggs the Coach of the Year honors in the West as well.
Barton will get things started this weekend when the Cougars travel to Oklahoma for a 4-game series with Carl Albert State. The teams will play two games Friday and two more Saturday.
Jarrett Seaton is back to lead the pitching staff. Last season as a freshman, Seaton posted a 10-2 record with 4.52 ERA to earn the Pitcher of the Year honors. The left-hander does it in a different way.
“He is not a high velocity guy,” Coach Biggs said. “He throws at different speeds and can throw four pitches for strikes. That drives hitters nut.
“It seems like everyone now throws hard. They turn the pitching machine up to a high speed. So when you have someone like Jarrett that throws a lower velocity it can really mess you up.”
Also back from last season’s rotation is Andrew Repp. The 6-1 right-hander from Topeka went 5-2 with a 4.17 ERA.
A third rotation spot will most likely go to Josh Hendrickson. He is a 6-4 lefty from Australia that played junior college baseball last season. Over the summer he played in a D-I league and has already drawn interest from 4-year schools.
In the field, the Cougars return a 2nd team West pick in third baseman Dawson Pomeroy and an honorable mention pick in catcher Kaden Fowler.
Pomeroy hit .331 his freshman season with 43 RBI. He will also return as the closer for the Cougars.
Fowler hit .322 with 49 RBI for the Cougars. He will split time between catcher and right field this year.
When Fowler isn’t catching, Brett Bonar will man that spot.
Brady Michel, a Great Bend product, saw some time last season and will be looked to for more playing this year in the outfield. Paul Claassen will be the everyday shortstop for Barton.
Newcomers Coach Biggs looks for to take over everyday spot include Harrison Dank in the outfield and Tim Bell at second base.
“Other than that, we will be looking for people to step up and fill those other spots,” Coach Biggs said.
A new feature in the conference this year will be the 4-game series. Instead of a Saturday-Sunday weekend with all the games played at one sight, the West will go to a Thursday-Saturday setup with each team hosting two games.
“Four games in two days was a nightmare and the quality of play was not so good,” Coach Biggs said. “This will give teams fresher arms during the series and also allow 4-year coaches to get in and get a better look at the players on Thursdays.”
The West will be tough again this year. Hutchinson will start the year ranked No. 7 in the NJCAA. From the East, Cowley, the 3rd place team at the NJCAA Championships last year, is ranked No. 4 and Johnson County No. 17.
“I feel like pitching is going to be our strength,” Coach Biggs said. “We don’t have a lot of experience offensively. But I feel like we have a good group. It is going to come down to staying healthy and seeing how much these kids want to compete.”