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February 24, 2014

One week and counting

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We are exactly one week away from the first spring practice on the diamond, and all indications are that it is going to be a cold one as the 10 day forecast puts the high temperature at a whopping 25 degrees for March 3rd.

This past weekend, the Mustang Academy had their usual end of winter tournament, and I got to watch the Mustangs and KC Peppers each play two games on Saturday along with the KC Elite which although a Missouri team, had picked up three players from the west side of the river for the tournament.

Since there won't be a tournament in the Wichita area, along with my grand daughter probably going to qualify for the state track and field meet providing she doesn't fall and break something, it is doubtful I will see any of the state softball or baseball tournaments this year except for on a video stream which we hope will be provided for at least the 5-6A tournaments.

If you look at all the players which I tweeted out the other day and I didn't cover them all I am finding out, and what they are doing for their respective teams (many in the top 25) you understand what I mean when I talk about our girls being second to none in this sport. Then think about this year's class and the players in it and where they have committed along with the class of 2015 and you should get an idea of what's to come.

Sure, there will be a lot of sub-par teams playing this season as teams which play summer ball like the No. 8 nationally ranked Mustangs, 18th ranked Peppers, along with a couple other top 100 or so teams in the nation (Mac-n-Seitz, Renegades, Elite, Rockets, etc) split up for their high school seasons but generally speaking, we also have some very good high school teams. (Olathe East enters as the No. 21 team in the country according to MaxPreps)

Of our starting lineup which we listed with our top players in Kansas listing put out a few weeks ago, we have three headed to the SEC, five to the Big 12, one to the Missouri Valley and another to Independent Notre Dame. That in my opinion looks to be one of the top signing classes of all time although three of them are juniors and will come out next season.

The top junior college teams in Kansas have also recruited these classes very well, and you will see a lot of the top players attending Butler, Cowley, Highland, Labette County, Independence and Johnson County next season. Several of the western JUCO's have drawn my ire in the past since they don't recruit Kansas very well and they do pay the price for it.

There are over 300 Division I schools in the country playing softball, and I will go on record as it is my belief that our in state Division II schools, Fort Hays, Washburn, Emporia, Pittsburg State and a much improved Newman could beat half of them head to head. And our schools are using home grown talent to their advantage. Even our three area D-1 schools are using our home talent (KU, WSU, UMKC).

I have seen at least five home grown players in the lineup at KU, led by Arkansas City's Taylor Hatfield who is hitting .351 for the Jayhawks with eight RBI's so far. Two of the top three hitters for the Shockers are home grown players with another in the top six. Both are currently hitting over 60 percentage points higher than the Shockers leading hitter from a year ago.

We start the new season with much anticipation in one week with some sure fire ideas on who will be the top teams in the state in each class, knowing quite well that there will be incoming players on each and every team this year who will change the face of what we know at this time. That's why they play the games.

Our preseason rankings have been posted and targets placed on the backs of certain teams. There are reasons why those targets are there with the main one being "history" of the players who have elected to play for those coaches.

Yes, some teams will dominate, but the real fun comes in trying to beat those teams and the real satisfaction comes in actually doing just that. You have six days folks, it's almost here. Enjoy the season and have fun on the diamond.



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