BY JIM MISUNAS
A weather forecast predicting a 100 percent chance for rain in Hays Tuesday postponed the Great Bend Chiefs' summer baseball opener. By early afternoon, Hays was rain free. But rain was forecast by 6 p.m. Tuesday.
For Great Bend Chiefs baseball coach Randy Beck, there are still a bunch of unknowns.
The one thing Beck knows is the Great Bend Chiefs summer baseball team has been cleared to start practice at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Veterans Park.
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly provided the go-ahead Tuesday for summer baseball teams to start practice. It’s been more than two months since the KSHSAA stopped high school baseball from being played due to rising fear about the coronavirus.
“Finally – it’s been a long time coming,” Beck said. “We’re still working to get a schedule. We’re taking a look at what our options are.”
The first possible option might be a June 5-7 high school baseball tournament at Hutchinson.
“Guys have practiced long toss catch, but the big key is getting their pitching arms ready,” Beck said. “Typically, we’ll have three weeks in the spring before we play games. We’ll keep our pitch counts down when we get started.”
Great Bend Panther veterans Colin Hall and Townshend Kurth provide the Chiefs with two reliable starters. Hall and Kurth pitched the Panthers past Wichita Northwest 7-3 and Hays High 6-2 last spring. Great Bend (10-11) lost 6-2 to St. Thomas Aquinas at the 5A state baseball tournament. The Great Bend Panthers qualified for 5A state baseball two consecutive years.
All-WAC pitcher Colin Hall compiled a 7-4 record the past two springs.
“Colin Hall and Townshend Kurth are older players who will provide good leadership,” Beck said. “They’ve been our top two pitchers the past two years.”
Beck said both crafty pitchers who rely on throwing strikes and hitting spots rather than sheer ability.
“They throw strikes and keep the defense on their toes,” Beck said. “Townshend is a hard-working switch-hitter with a lot of tools.”
Most of the Chiefs’ roster played for a 16-16 Great Bend Braves Legion baseball team that went 5-2 in postseason play last year. The Braves finished 2-1 at the Class A state tournament by beating Iola 12-4 and Marysville 16-5, but losing to the Salina Hawks 12-2. Stefan Spray, Chayse Gruber and Sage Koelsch were top pitchers.
“A lot of those guys would’ve had opportunities to play at the varsity level this spring,” Beck said. “They’ve got a lot of baseball under their belts. They’ve showed they’ll compete and get after it. That’s hard to teach. They’ve never backed down when they’ve competed against older teams. The more experience they get, the more confidence.”
Beck expects the Great Bend Chiefs to field a competitive baseball team. Beck served as an assistant with coach Jeff Langrehr for Great Bend’s 1995 and 1998 state baseball champions and state runners-up in 2005 and 2006.
“The guys have developed a good mentality to battle with two strikes and put the baseball in play,” he said. “When you do that, it can change the momentum of a ballgame.”
GREAT BEND CHIEFS—Brad Beck; Chayse Gruber; Gavin Haberman; P-C-SS Colin Hall; Paco Hernandez; IF-OF Layton Holden; Sage Koelsch; OF-P Townshend Kurth; Joe Moeder; Matthew Moeder; Jade Poe; Stefan Spray; OF Christian Zahnter
GREAT BEND CHIEFS SCHEDULE
6-19-20–at McPherson Tournament
6-23–Great Bend vs. Pratt, TMP
6-25—at Salina Tournament (Chiefs vs. Capital Mudcats; Chiefs vs. Lawrence Next Level)
6-26—at Salina Tournament (Chiefs vs. Topeka Scrappers)
6-27—at Salina Tournament
6-28—at Salina Tournament
7-1–at Salina Falcons
7-18–at Smith Center