PITTSBURG — The Pittsburg, Frontenac and Southeast High School baseball teams were selected No. 1 within their respective leagues in the preseason coaches’ poll revealed at the American Legion Post 64 Luncheon on Wednesday.
The Purple Dragons were a unanimous pick as the top team in the SEK, with 36 points in front of runner-up Fort Scott with 29.
“We’re appreciative of receiving all of the votes,” PHS head coach Keith Matlock said. “I think that’s a tribute to the senior class that we have. We return six seniors who have all been the foundation of what we’ve done the past few years.”
In the CNC polls, Frontenac led the way with 35 points and five first-place votes, followed by St. Mary’s-Colgan with 31 points and two first-place votes.
“Basketball ended last week, so we just recently got our full team together,” FHS head coach Bill Sullivan said. “It’s been a challenge to cram everything it, as we open the season just after spring break. We have 33 kids out for baseball this year, with seven seniors and seven juniors, so we like our numbers. Our seven seniors have been with us all four years and we have a nice junior class. We also have a nice group of sophomores who are pushing the older kids for playing time. There’s going to be competition at every position, which I think will make us better.”
For the Panthers, their turnover on the roster put them one spot below the Raiders.
“Last year, we had a big senior class,” SMC head coach Mike Watt said. “We had nine seniors on the field and a lot of experience. This year, we return just two seniors, and out of my 22 players, 11 of them are freshmen. So, this year will be almost the opposite of last year in terms of experience. It’s going to be interesting to see who steps up and wins the starting roles.”
Girard followed up in fourth place in the poll with 21 points behind No. 3 Galena with 25.
“The CNC is a really tough league,” GHS head coach Steve Bever said. “There may not be a lot of players who go on to play at the college level, but there’s certainly a lot of good players, coaches and competition. You really have to stay sharp to be on the top. It’s nice to be in the middle of pack, but until we step on the field, it’s hard to know how good we’ll be.”
Topping the list in the TRL is Southeast, which earned 72 points and five first-place votes, followed by Northeast in fifth with 47 points.
Hosting the reveal was the American Legion Post 64 Baseball Program, which offers area high school baseball players an opportunity to gain more exposure in front of scouts and coaches by providing an opportunity to play over the summer free of charge.
“Post 64 is more of a regional team,” American Legion Baseball Post 64 manager Ron Light said. “It’s an opportunity to play baseball, to play against good competition and to be a productive member of society. This is all offered to the players at no cost, so it’s good for the area as well as just the legion.”
For more information on American Legion baseball, contact Light at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer