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Shawnee County baseball: Trojans get season off to perfect start

By RICK PETERSON

TopSports.news

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Topeka High's baseball team faces a tough challenge to become a contender in the Centennial League, which has produced multiple state championship teams.

But Cody Miller's team got the 2021 season off to a good start on Monday at Hummer Sports Park. In fact, it was a perfect start for the Trojans, with three Topeka High pitchers combining for a three-inning perfect game in the Trojans' 15-0 non-league win over Kansas City-Washington.

Senior Lukas Brennan was the starting pitcher for Topeka, followed by junior Dillon Mitchell and junior Max Colombo, with Brennan and Mitchell both striking out three hitters and Colombo two.

Topeka High put the game away with 11 runs in the first inning, including three straight triples, from senior Addison Sigg, Colombo and sophomore Elijah Kincade, to open the game. Kincade had two hits in the game.

 Now the goal for Miller's Trojans is to parlay that big start into a big season.

"This season comes with heightened expectations, because we return a number of key contributors and gain a tremendous amount of incoming talent,'' Miller said. "We have outstanding leadership from our senior class and I expect this to be the best season from Topeka High baseball in a long, long time.''

Other top returners for the Trojans, who went 7-13 in 2019, include seniors Colin Daniels, Casey Champney and Devon Keeling and juniors Aiden Feldkausen and John Cordova.

Top newcomers for Topeka High include seniors Brayden Humphrey, Culhann Carr and Trent Adkins and freshman Isaiah Kincade.

Other Shawnee County teams at a glance:  

Hayden -- Senior Skyler Specht is the long returner for Bill Arnold's Wildcats with varsity experience and will play shortstop and pitch for Hayden.

Other seniors who are expected to contribute for the Wildcats are Erick Teske, Jake Gales, Jonathan Knapp, Justin Weil, Ryan Graves, Corbin Bullock and Pete Harrod.

The Wildcats opened their season Tuesday with a pair of losses at Class 6A Washburn Rural.

Highland Park -- Junior Trent Long is the lone returning starter for Scots coach Robert Brown and is expected to pitch and play third base.

Other top returners for Highland Park are seniors Ayden Prettyman and Christian Gallegos and junior Malachi Carper.

Rossville -- Bradley Eammon's Bulldawgs went 16-9 in '19 and return considerable experience, including seniors Bo Reeves, Joe McGrath, Bryson Balch and Brody Jackson and juniors Aiden Garcia, McGwyre Leathers, Kaden Brown, Tagen Kippes and Corey Catron.

Reeves hit .400 in '19 and was 5-2 as a pitcher with an 0.73 earned run average while Leathers hit .386 with 25 runs batted in.

Top newcomers for the Bulldawgs include sophomores Jacob Carver and Kade Perine and freshman Camden Horak.

Seaman -- Former Viking assistant coach Trent Oliva takes over a Seaman program that was one of the state's most dominant programs under Steve Bushnell, now the Seaman athletic director.

Top returners for Seaman include seniors Cole Askew, Kolden Howerton, Micah Kobuszewski and junior Dagen Brewer while top newcomers include seniors Andrew Kirmer and Kevin Mannell and juniors Braden Colley, Maclane Finley and Aidan Polter.

"We'll have many players that will be getting their first opportunity to play at the varsity level after the cencellation of last year's season,'' Oliva said. "We feel the potential of our versatility will be a strength, with many players being able to play multiple positions. We are excited to be getting on the field and competing for an opportunity to return to the state tournament in hopes of a state championship.''

The Vikings won their ninth state title in 2019, posting a 20-5 record.

Seaman opened its season with a win over Washburn Rural.

Shawnee Heights -- Shawnee Heights was 17-5 in '19 under veteran T-Bird coach Ryan Schmidt and will build this year's team around seniors Andrew Rantz, Chase Carson and Max Orton.

Heights, a member of the United Kansas Conference, has been a perennial Class 5A power under Schmidt

Rantz hit .405 as a sophomore in 2019 while Carson posted a 3-0 pitching record with a 2.19 earned run average.

Silver Lake -- Tyler Seele's Eagles went 13-7 in '19 and return a solid nucleus of players from that team, including seniors Trent Reamer, Connor Pruyser, Jacob Wegner, Deacon Zordel and Mason Maldonado and junior Daigan Kruger.

Top newcomers include seniors Max Strecker, Dylan Roush and Mason Schwartz.

"We have an experienced team with nine seniors and 10 juniors,'' Seele said. "We will lean on that experience a lot this season.''

Topeka West -- The Chargers will be looking to take steps forward after posting a 3-15 record in '19.

Top returners for West coach John Tetuan are seniors Jordan Murray-Freeman, Aaron Lira, Robbie Malcom and Tristan Speaker and juniors Jordan Parsel and Ty Epler, while Shawnee Heights junior transfer Zander Putthoff is expected to be a valuable addition.

"We have a great group of kids this year,'' Tetuan said. "They have been chomping at the bit to get back on the field. I'm excited to get out there and see what they can accomplish together.''

Washburn Rural -- Jay Mastin's Junior Blues posted an 18-6 record and placed third in the Class 6A state tournament in '19.

Rural will build this year's team around seniors Brady Patterson, Davan Brady, Alex Blum, Cooper Carlgren, Anthony Taggart, Hunter Jones, Alex Haag, Tucker Simpson, Hunter Vondemkamp, Kyle Walker, Andrew Chavez and Tate Schoffelman and juniors Robby Bolin, Brock Howard and Carson Rosen.

Patterson was one of the city's top players in '19, hitting .369 while Carlgren was 3-0 on the mound with an 0.43 earned run average.

Sophomore Ty Weber suffered a leg injury in Rural's season-opening loss to Seaman and is expected to be out for the season.