If I'm Mike Hill, one of my biggest concerns this week is The Dorian Green Factor.
Hill is Free State High's baseball coach, and Green is a Lawrence High baseball player. The two will be in opposing dugouts when the Lions and Firebirds clash Friday in the Class 6A state tournament in Topeka.
What is The Dorian Green Factor?
First, another question. Have you noticed the uncanny similarity between the Lions' baseball team and the school's boys basketball team?
Just a couple of months ago, Lawrence High's boys were the eighth seed in the Class 6A state basketball tournament because their overall record was a middling 11-11. And now the LHS baseball team is the same No. 8 boat in the state baseball tournament because of its so-so 11-10 record.
The eighth seed is always matched against the top seed in state meets. In March's basketball tourney in Emporia, the Lions faced No. 1 Manhattan in the first round. Final score: Lawrence 65, Manhattan 56.
How did the Lions pull off that stunner? They did it primarily because they received a career-high 32 points as well as eight rebounds, four assists and three steals from Green, their starting point guard.
Now with Green in a Lions' baseball uniform, the inevitable question is: Will The Dorian Green Factor come into play again Friday?
Green's baseball skills are just as diverse as his basketball talent. In the Lions' state-qualifying 9-1 victory over Washburn Rural last week, for example, the junior right-hander hurled all seven innings, gave five hits and fanned eight. At the plate, he drove in four runs with a double and a triple.
And regardless of whether Lions' coach Brad Stoll decides to start Green on the mound against the Firebirds, Green will be in the lineup because Stoll uses his most talented player in center field when he isn't pitching.
In Free State's favor, however, is the knowledge Green isn't invulnerable. Earlier this month at Ice Field, the Lions' standout surrendered home runs to Alex Hardman and E.J. Swanson, and the Firebirds won, 6-4. Moreover, a day later, the Firebirds edged the Lions, 4-3, at Hoglund Ballpark.
On the flip side is that old adage about how difficult it is to defeat the same team three times in one season, another potential factor working in the Lions' favor. Then again, sweeps do happen, and the Firebirds haven't captured 19 of their 21 games this spring because opponents have rolled over and played dead.
Half the 6A state field is composed of Sunflower League schools, and Free State went 11-0 against league foes (12-0 if you count the non-league game against Lawrence High).
On the surface, the Firebirds appear ripe for the kill, yet this senior-laden squad plays with such business-like confidence, with such faith in its own ability that you have to believe it will take something monumental like The Dorian Green Factor to derail their pursuit of a state title.
Thus the most compelling question surrounding the next city baseball battle is whether lightning will strike twice. Will Green do to Free State in May what he did to Manhattan in March?