High School Sports

High School Sports

River City Baseball Festival field loaded

April 24, 2014

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Players to watch

(Player, position, high school — college commitment)

Seniors

Jack Benninghoff, OF, Rockhurst — Arkansas

Zack Engelken, RHP, Blue Valley West — Nebraska

Tanner Gragg, C, Blue Valley West — Kansas

Monte Harrison, OF, Lee’s Summit West — Nebraska (football)

Alex Lange, RHP, Lee’s Summit West — LSU

T.J. Martin, C, Blue Valley Southwest — Kansas

Bryce Montes de Oca, RHP, Lawrence — Missouri

Ryan Ralston, 3B, Blue Valley West — Kansas

Adam Thies, SS, Olathe East — Wichita State

Gunnar Troutwine, C, Shawnee Mission East — Wichita State

Trey Vickers, SS, Rockhurst — Wichita State

Juniors

Brendan Stanek, RHP, Blue Valley Southwest — Arkansas

Connor Kaiser, SS, Blue Valley West — Vanderbilt

Luke Ritter, 2B, Rockhurst — Wichita State

Noah Croft, C, Olathe South — Wichita State

Jason Allbery, 3B, Omaha Creighton Prep — Creighton

For high school baseball teams looking to simulate the state tournament, there’s no better test than the River City Baseball Festival, which begins at 11:15 a.m. today.

Nearly 30 baseball teams from four states will converge on Lawrence for the 13th annual Festival, which will be played over the next three days, and it includes four teams from last season’s Class 6A state tournament.

“You have to play three really good opponents in three days, and it just builds you for the postseason,” Lawrence High coach Brad Stoll said. “That’s what our whole mantra is: Be strong by the end of the year. That’s what we’re here for, try to use this as a building block for regionals and the state tournament.”

LHS (6-4) will open at 5:30 p.m. today against Lee’s Summit (Mo.) West (10-2) at Kansas University’s Hoglund Ballpark. A large contingent of scouts is expected to watch Lions right-hander Bryce Montes de Oca and Titans senior outfielder Monte Harrison. Baseball America, a top source for the sport’s draft news and projections, has both players pegged as potential picks in the first two rounds of June’s Major League Baseball draft.

The Lions will face Rogers, Ark., at 7 p.m. Friday at LHS and Blue Valley West, the defending Class 6A state champions, at 6 p.m. Saturday at Hoglund Ballpark.

Free State High will play at 7:15 p.m. today against Raymore-Peculiar, Mo., at Hoglund Ballpark. The Firebirds (7-3) are coming off a big victory Monday over Olathe East, which was previously unbeaten in the Sunflower League, and will try to carry momentum throughout the Festival into their games against Bishop Miege at 2:30 p.m. Friday at FSHS and Branson, Mo., at 11:15 a.m. Saturday at Hoglund Ballpark.

With a chance to play elite teams at Hoglund Ballpark, where the 6A state tournament is held, do players look forward to these games more than others?

“Absolutely they do,” Free State coach Mike Hill said. “Our kids are proud of their ability to put something on like this as the host school. You want to do well, and, secondly, a couple of opportunities to play at KU, and another opportunity to get to play during the school day gets them excited.”

The Lions went winless in the Festival last year, but it eventually helped them make a run to the sub-state championship game.

“We felt like even though we went 0-3, we walked out of there a much better team,” Stoll said, “much more prepared for the postseason, and that was the main thing. I just love it.”

Thursday

At Hoglund Ballpark, Kansas University

5:30 p.m. — Lawrence vs. Lee’s Summit West, Mo.

7:15 p.m. — Free State vs. Raymore-Peculiar, Mo.

At Free State High

11:15 a.m. — Olathe North vs. Blue Valley West

1:30 p.m. — Shawnee Mission West vs. Blue Springs, Mo.

3:45 p.m. — Olathe North vs. KC Rockhurst, Mo.

6 p.m. — Olathe East vs. Warrensburg, Mo.

At Lawrence High

11:15 a.m. — Shawnee Mission West vs. KC Rockhurst, Mo.

1:30 p.m. — Olathe Northwest vs. Blue Valley Southwest

3:45 p.m. — Shawnee Mission East vs. Omaha Creighton Prep, Neb.

6 p.m. — Shawnee Mission South vs. Topeka Hayden

Friday

At Hoglund Ballpark, Kansas University

10 a.m. — Olathe Northwest vs. KC Rockhurst, Mo.

12:15 p.m. — Olathe North vs. Omaha Creighton Prep, Neb.

2:30 p.m. — Olathe South vs. Maize

4:45 p.m. — Shawnee Mission West vs. Nixa, Mo.

7 p.m. — Olathe East vs. Lee’s Summit West, Mo.

At Free State High

10 a.m. — SM Northwest vs. Blue Valley North

12:15 p.m. — Shawnee Mission South vs. Raymore-Peculiar, Mo.

2:30 p.m. — Free State vs. Bishop Miege

4:45 p.m. — Blue Valley vs. Omaha Creighton Prep, Neb.

7 p.m. — Maize vs. Branson, Mo.

At Lawrence High

10 a.m. — Topeka Hayden vs. Warrensburg, Mo.

12:15 p.m. — Shawnee Mission East vs. Warrensburg, Mo.

2:30 p.m. — Shawnee Mission Northwest vs. Ozark, Mo.

4:45 p.m. — Olathe Northwest vs. Ozark, Mo.

7 p.m. — Lawrence vs. Rogers, Ark.

Saturday

At Hoglund Ballpark, Kansas University

9 a.m. — Shawnee Mission North Vs. Ozark, Mo.

11:15 a.m. — Free State vs. Branson, Mo.

1:30 p.m. — Blue Valley Northwest vs. Blue Springs, Mo.

3:45 p.m. — Shawnee Mission North vs. Blue Valley

6 p.m. — Lawrence vs. Blue Valley West

At Free State High

9 a.m. — Bishop Miege vs. Blue Springs, Mo.

11:15 a.m. — Shawnee Mission West vs. Rogers, Ark.

1:30 p.m. — Ozark, Mo. vs. Raymore-Peculiar, Mo.

3:45 p.m. — Branson, Mo. vs. Raymore-Peculiar, Mo.

At Lawrence High

9 a.m. — Blue Valley Northwest vs. Omaha Creighton Prep, Neb.

11:15 a.m. — Olathe South vs. Nixa, Mo.

1:30 p.m. — Nixa, Mo. vs. Lee’s Summit West, Mo.

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