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Three thoughts on state baseball

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By Brad Hallier

All three Division 1 stadiums are being used, which is awesome, but …

While KSHSAA gets a lot of misplaced blame for the problems within Kansas high school athletics, let’s face it, KSHSAA does get a lot right too.

Kansas has three NCAA Division 1 universities, and all three have baseball. KSHSAA will use all three this week – the Kansas Jayhawks’ Hoglund Ballpark for Class 6A, Wichita State’s Eck Stadium for Class 5A, and Kansas State’s Tointon Family Stadium for Class 3A. What a thrill this will be for the many players who won’t play Division 1 college baseball, or college baseball at all. There’s nothing wrong with the other two facilities – Salina’s Dean Evans Stadium for Class 4A and Great Bend Sports Complex for Class 2-1A. But it’s not quite like playing at a D1 ballpark, is it?

Kansas has two professional ballparks – Riverfront Stadium in Wichita and Legends Field in Kansas City. I’m not saying it would be easy to nab either stadium, but state tournaments are for the student-athletes. Most will never touch a professional field, let alone play on one, Why not give them that chance?

Hesston continues to make strides

Hesston’s program is still relatively young, but the Swathers have been good from the beginning (shocking isn’t it? Seeing Hesston good at a sport).

Hesston’s previous state tournament was forgettable, a first-round 17-3 loss to Frontenac. Hesston’s path isn’t any easier this time, as the second-seeded Swathers take on No. 7 Topeka Hayden at 3:30 p.m. Thursday in Manhattan. But it’s two-for-one to show how far Hesston has come. Advance at state and beat a bona fide state-championship contender. Hesston can turn a lot of heads this weekend.

Marion’s reputation continues to grow

At some point, we need to acknowledge Marion as one of the best 2-1A programs in the state.

Does Marion have a state championship? No. But last year, Marion moved to the state championship game, where Marion fell 13-3 to powerful Pittsburg Colgan.

This year, Marion could be even better. At 21-4, the Warriors are the No. 2 seed in Great Bend. They have a tough opening matchup with TMP out of Hays. But Marion has proved to be an annual contender. Is this the year the Warriors kick in the proverbial door? They could, and it would be a much-deserved title for this consistently-good, and vastly underrated, program.