Eagles roll past Dodge
Published on -6/29/2012, 10:10 AM
By KLINT SPILLER
The Hays Senior Legion baseball team is on historic pace.
After run ruling Dodge City twice in five innings, 9-0 and 11-3, on Thursday at Larks Park, the Hays Eagles now have won 25 of 29 games this season. Just short of halfway through its schedule, Hays has a shot at joining some of the best teams in the program's history.
However, coach Brad Kelly admitted it didn't feel like his squad was 25-4.
With so many games in such a short time, games sometimes run together, and Kelly said mistakes made in the team's four losses have been more memorable than the 25 wins.
"It's hard to remember the wins, but I think those losses are still fresh in their memory," Kelly said.
Only six teams in Hays Senior Legion since 1926 have played at least 30 games and finished with single-digit losses.
The Eagles likely will play more than 60 games and are on pace to join that group.
Kelly said he hasn't been surprised of his team's success.
The Eagles, composed largely of Hays High School players who went 41-6 in their last two years, have a history of playing at a consistently high level.
"These guys are good baseball players," Kelly said. "They know how to play the game, and they play it hard."
Against Dodge City, the Eagles dominated.
Josh Heifner (5-0) pitched a 2-hit shutout in Game 1, striking out six and walking one.
"He's been solid," Kelly said. "He doesn't walk too many guys and throws a lot of strikes and gets some strikeouts when he needs to."
Outfielder Casey Sedbrook, shortstop Austin Unrein, outfielder Jarrett Sanders and third baseman Zack Legleiter each went 2 of 3 at the plate.
In Game 2, the Eagles didn't play quite as pretty of a game as pitcher Trevor Henningsen got into some trouble in the fourth inning, but the result was the same.
Henningsen (5-0) stayed in the game and threw all five innings. He gave up three runs -- all in the fourth -- and four hits.
The Eagles scored all of their runs in the second and fifth innings, and Unrein sealed the victory with a 2-RBI walkoff single.
"We don't make too many mistakes, but when we do, we usually find a way to overcome them," Kelly said.
The last time a Hays Senior Legion team had a winning percentage higher than the Eagles have so far, it was during arguably the greatest season in Hays Legion history in 1974 when it went 35-5 and won the state championship.
Unrein, who also is one of the team's top pitchers, said a lot of the reason for their success is because of their pitching depth. The Eagles have seven pitchers capable of shutting teams down, and multiple players who have sub 1.00 earned run averages.
"We are pretty deep," Unrein said.
Unrein said the team is staying relaxed and just focusing on one game at a time. After the game, the team spent more time throwing a football around than a baseball.
"We've been playing so many games that we just come out and play," Unrein said. "We are really relaxed as a team. Coach Kelly wants us to get pumped up for the game, ... but for the most part, we are pretty relaxed as a team. I think that's a big part of our success."
However, the end goal is still definitely on their minds, Unrein said.
The team is focused on winning a state championship -- a feat a Hays team hasn't achieved since 1981.
"We are due," Unrein said.
The Ark City Tournament scheduled for this weekend was canceled, so the Eagles instead will play this weekend at a tournament in Leavenworth.