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Hayes is KSU's next big 'Cat -4/17/2014, 10:44 AM

New group for Plainville track -4/17/2014, 10:16 AM

Otis track team deals with injuries, illness -4/17/2014, 10:16 AM

Jets land former Titan Chris Johnson -4/17/2014, 10:16 AM

HDN Area Track & Field honor roll, April 17 -4/17/2014, 10:16 AM

Freeman winds up with N.Y. Giants -4/17/2014, 10:16 AM

Tigers win on grand slam -4/17/2014, 10:16 AM

Weber gets extension at K-State -4/17/2014, 10:15 AM

HHS' Weigel becomes a Cowboy -4/17/2014, 10:15 AM

Humburg jumping well for Ness City -4/16/2014, 9:59 AM

Doubles team rolls at HHS Invitational -4/16/2014, 9:59 AM

HHS soccer improves to 6-2, beats Great Bend -4/16/2014, 9:59 AM

Prep golf results, April 15 -4/16/2014, 9:59 AM

Tiger tennis ends MIAA season in loss -4/16/2014, 9:59 AM

Tiger golfers ninth in St. Charles, Mo. -4/16/2014, 9:59 AM

Track results, Redmen Relays, April 15 -4/16/2014, 9:58 AM

TMP boys win at Ellsworth -4/16/2014, 9:58 AM

TMP softball sweeps Ellis -4/16/2014, 9:58 AM

TMP soccer suffers loss at Garden City -4/16/2014, 9:58 AM

TMP boys' golf third at Goodland -4/16/2014, 9:58 AM

TMP baseball rolls past Ellis -4/16/2014, 9:58 AM

HHS baseball splits with Junction City -4/15/2014, 9:53 AM

TMP softball swept at Colby -4/15/2014, 10:10 AM

TMP golf begins season today -4/15/2014, 10:09 AM

HHS soccer rallies for victory -4/15/2014, 10:09 AM

Rare time off for Tiger softball -4/15/2014, 10:09 AM

KSU, WSU Barnstormers coming to Hays -4/15/2014, 10:09 AM

Watson wins Masters -4/14/2014, 10:08 AM

Royals swept by Twins -4/14/2014, 10:07 AM

Harvick wins at Darlington -4/13/2014, 6:51 AM

Royals ace James Shields struggles in loss to Twins -4/13/2014, 6:42 AM

K-State's Deante Burton feels ready to take his game up a notch -4/13/2014, 6:39 AM

Former Jayhawks address football team about facing struggles -4/13/2014, 6:39 AM

HHS basketball camp May 27 to 29 -4/13/2014, 6:32 AM

Tigers’ Wolf second at K.T. Woodman -4/13/2014, 6:32 AM

FHSU tennis drops pair of MIAA outings -4/13/2014, 6:31 AM

FHSU softball 3-1 in weekend -4/13/2014, 6:31 AM

Tiger offense shines in Spring Game -4/13/2014, 6:31 AM

Tiger baseball 1-3 in series -4/13/2014, 6:30 AM

Mattheyer jumps onto scene at Ellis -4/13/2014, 6:30 AM

HHS golf finishes second in Garden City -4/13/2014, 6:32 AM

HHS pitcher, catcher share chemistry -4/13/2014, 7:56 AM

HHS relay team wins Elite -4/12/2014, 6:37 PM

Sports Scores

Tuesday

Prep basketball

Boys

Atwood 76, St. Francis 65

Dighton 62, Oberlin 47

Hillsboro 50, Goodland 47

Lakeside 42, Lincoln 32

Minneapolis 68, Russell 35

Rock Hills 42, Natoma 37

Salina Central 62, Andover 58

Salina South 62, Sacred Heart 47

Sharon Springs 75, Leoti 38

St. John's Beloit-Tipton 57, Osborne 34

Sylvan-Lucas 61, Thunder Ridge 48

Girls

Dighton 44, Atwood 11

Dodge City 71, Hays High 28

Hesston 51, Goodland 18

Hoisington 60, Victoria 46

Hoxie 65, St. Francis 13

Lincoln 33, Lakeside 26

Minneapolis 47, Otis-Bison 24

Osborne 59, Wilson 34

Sharon Springs 63, Oberlin 42

Sylvan-Lucas 43, Natoma 41 (ot)

Tescott 41, Rock Hills 33

Trego 56, Leoti 27

Thunder Ridge 33, St. John's Beloit-Tipton 30

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SPOTLIGHT
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Top sports stories 2012: Larks put together another 'magical' season

Published on -12/19/2012, 10:20 AM

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By NICK McQUEEN

nmcqueen@dailynews.net

Each summer it begins to sound like a broken record.

But, what the Hays Larks are able to accomplish at times against the odds is nothing short of "magical."

That "Larks Magic" was put to good use from July to mid-August this summer, culminating in one of the most memorable Larks runs in recent history.

The Larks faced inevitable adversity in mid-July, with injuries and losing two of its top pitchers.

Still, Hays rebounded, made a late-season push and won its first Jayhawk League title since 2008. The regular-season finish included a 13-3 record in the final 16 games. It was the seventh league crown for the Larks in the last 12 seasons.

Then, after a rare first-round loss at the National Baseball Congress World Series, Hays battled all the way back in the elmination bracket to finish in the final four.

It's one of the HDN's top stories of 2012.

"Baseball is a game of overcoming adversity," Larks manager Frank Leo said after the season.

"The team that can overcome it is the team that is going to be successful. Our guys did that this summer."

The biggest hit to the Larks' campaign came in mid July, and hurt Hays' pitching staff. Starters Shawn Lewick and Alex Ellison both left the team -- Ellison for off-the-field issues and Lewick signed by the Independent Wichita Wingnuts.

Lewick pitched just one game for the Wingnuts and was cut, but could no longer play amateur during the regular season.

"We played banged up in that month of July, and we had to make a run for that league title," Leo said. "...Our starting position players got no days off."

Entering July, Hays was in third place in the league behind Liberal and Dodge City, but Hays had 10 of its final 16 games at home, finishing 9-1 at Larks Park.

"Our homestands are great," second-year Lark Aaron Cornell said after the season. "We draw in a ton of fans every game, and it's just awesome."

The regular-season finish propelled Hays into the 78th NBC with some momentum, but an unusual opening loss -- 2-1 to the Greeley (Colo.) Grays --  sent the Larks into the elimination bracket.

"We came out, and I don't know if we were nervous or what it was, but we had some jitters early," right-fielder Austin Darby said after the loss. "We settled in, played well defensively and made the plays we needed to."

Three first-inning errors led to both Greeley runs, and the Larks were unable to bounce back, giving Hays its first NBC-opening loss since 2000.

But the Hays offense wasn't going to be held back, and the Larks went on to win six straight games that led to an eventual third-place finish in a 6-2 loss perennial title contender Seattle.

Hays' defense was equally impressive as the Larks never surrendered more than three runs in a game until losing to Seattle.

Joey Begel pitched a complete game in the Larks' first elimination game, and Justin Ziegler and Shawn Lewick (back for the postseason) also pitched what turned out to be complete games as Hays won two of its six straight by the mercy rule. The Larks posted 39 runs in their six straight wins.

But, a telling stat was Hays' 81 baserunners stranded.

"Our guys did square some balls up, and we had everything it took to make a championship run,"  Leo said. "We just didn't made the championship game."

Cornell and Darby, 15 and 31 hits, respectively led the way for Hays' NBC-best 73 hits, 15 doubles and 96 total bases. The Larks were named the top offense, batting .278 as a team. Lewick was named the top pitcher, getting two wins with a 1.29 earned-run average.

Darby entered the Larks's record books for the summer. His 17 doubles for the season put him a tie for eighth place, and his 70 hits puts him in a tie for sixth.

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