KINGMAN, Kan.—After losing six seniors – five of them starters and four of them pitchers – Kingman High School’s baseball team will be relying heavily on a group of hard-hitting juniors to lead them this spring.
The Eagle baseball program is now in its seventh year, and Toby Munz is in his seventh year as the team’s head coach.
But in those seven years, Munz has seen the program grow, with 23 boys on the roster for the 2013 campaign. Coming off of two consecutive years with 14 wins, the Eagles look to keep building. Munz hopes they can knock off defending league champion Pratt, as well as the other contenders.
“The toughest teams are going to be Lyons, Nickerson and Pratt. I would predict one of us four will be the league champion. It will be Pratt’s to win or lose,” said Munz.
All CKL schools except Hesston and Sterling have baseball teams.
While the Eagles look to replace lost pitchers, Munz will put a lot of focus on the offense.
“Some guys are going to have to step up. They’re going to have to hit, obviously, and we’ve got some really good hitters,” said Munz.
Munz feels senior Eric Crowe will be one of the team’s top hitters. He also looks for juniors Austin Taylor, Braxton Bangert, Sam Keeny and Dillon Burnett to perform well at the plate. All got meaningful varsity experience as sophomores.
“Those core guys who are juniors are really going to have to grow hair on their chests right in front of us, and turn from boys to men,” Munz said.
The team has two other seniors with leadership potential in Brant Boswell and Tyler Smith. Smith is a transfer student who recently moved to Kingman from Wichita.
The Eagles open their season on the road March 25 against Douglass. League play begins April 2 against Lyons, with their next outing against Nickerson on April 5. Both of those games will also be on the road.
“The toughest part of our league schedule will be right off the bat,” said Munz. “We’ll either be in or out, right from the start.”
Adam Conard and Mike Wilmott will assist Munz with coaching duties.