A familiar name has surfaced as new coach of the Raiders, Lawrence’s American Legion baseball team.
Wilson Kilmer, who was an assistant coach at Kansas University from 1988-2002, will take over the Legion program this summer.
Not coincidentally, Kilmer’s son Tanner, a junior at Lawrence High, will be on the Raiders’ roster.
“My son is getting to that age,” Kilmer said, “and I enjoy coaching, and it seemed like a nice progression.”
Since leaving KU, Kilmer has run a training operation called Home Plate Baseball that he fashioned out of a warehouse in East Lawrence. Kilmer replaces Shaun Edmondson, Eudora High’s baseball coach who opted to coach in Eudora this summer.
Kilmer will inherit only a couple of players from the Raiders’ team that compiled a 33-19 record and finished runner-up to host Pittsburg at last year’s AAA State Legion Tournament.
The two returnees are fleet centerfielder Matthew Abel and infielder-outfielder Travis Sanders. Both spent the spring playing baseball in junior colleges.
Abel, a Eudora High grad, was at Northern Oklahoma CC while Sanders, an LHS product, wore a Pratt CC uniform.
The bulk of Kilmer’s first team will be composed of current juniors at Lawrence and Free State highs.
“I’m familiar with that group,” Kilmer said, “and they’re familiar with me. Some of them have been playing together since they were 7.”
That group includes Tanner Kilmer, Taylor Gentry, Ben Wyatt, Chris Parker, Cody Jones and Jack Bush of Lawrence High; and Austin Holladay, Nick Hassig, Ryan Scott and Adam Petz from Free State High, as well as Eudora High’s Coulter Vestal.
Rounding out the roster are graduating seniors Mitch Whitson of LHS and Brian Kindle of Eudora.
A handful of other players on this year’s talented Lawrence and Free State high baseball teams will play instead for traveling clubs such as Mac N Seitz, the Barnstormers and the Sluggers that operate as showcase squads in the Kansas City Metro area.
One of the lures of playing for the Legion team, however, is the opportunity to play home games. The Raiders will travel to tournaments on the weekend, but will play weekday games at Ice Field in Holcom Complex.
“That’s a good benefit,” Kilmer said. “We’ll still travel plenty, but we’ll have games here, too.”
The Raiders are scheduled to open June 2 against the K.C. Sluggers at Ice Field.