staff photo by alexander simone
Marion pitcher Seth Lanning winds up for a pitch during spring warm-ups, just days before Governor Laura Kelley suspended Kansas spring sports. The Warriors were looking to start the season strong after losing 3-2 in last year’s Class 2-1A state championship.
Losing a chance for a 4th run to state
Marion baseball was looking to make its fourth consecutive run to Class 2-1A’s state tournament this season, and coach Roger Schroeder said that experience was going to play a key role.
“That was something we weren’t shy talking about,” he said. “For those seniors it was part of the culture. They didn’t know any different. That was only going to help us as we got going.”
Losing this season is also difficult because younger players won’t have the same opportunities to grow during the season, Schroeder said.
“The lost year of development for all the guys coming back next year is huge,” he said. “Our seniors had a lot of experience, we had a couple juniors with good experience, but there were going to be three or four kids in our lineup who hadn’t played a whole bunch of varsity.”
This year’s schedule featured several pivotal games, including fellow Heart of America juggernaut Sedgwick, 2019 Class 2-1A state qualifier Little River, and Class 4A qualifier Trinity Academy in Wichita.
With the Warriors slated to open the first few weeks with games twice a week, Schroeder said he was anticipating the challenge.
“We were going to get tested right out of the gate, for better or worse,” he said. “I was honest with our guys and said this was a great opportunity to learn.”
Player experience becomes even more important when looking ahead to 2021, Schroeder said.
All of the team’s upperclassmen will be this year’s juniors, and there will be nine incoming freshmen.
“That would make up close to half our roster if we’re able to do that,” he said. “To be able to half the other half get experience this year would have been huge.”
“I think it’s going to be more focused on us and us only,” he said. “What do we do well? What do we not do well?”
Preparing for opponents becomes more difficult with a one year hiatus because there is no reference from the previous season.
There will be additional emphasis on internal development since predicting opponents’ play will be extra difficult, Schroeder said.
“We won’t worry about who’s in the other dugout,” he said. “We’ll just play the game and adjust as we go. That might be the approach we end up taking next year.”