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SPOTLIGHT
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Hays Monarchs set to open Wednesday

Published on -6/5/2012, 10:20 AM

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By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

The seniors at Thomas More Prep-Marian have been playing baseball together for much of their lives. They were freshmen when the Hays Monarchs was created, and as they prepare for college, this summer could be the last opportunity for many of them to play on the same team.

"It is the last go around with this group," said Monarchs coach Dustin Schumacher. "We are looking to have a lot of fun and win as many games as we can and get as far as we can in our postseason tournament."

This year, the Monarchs again consist largely of players from TMP, with nine of their 16 players being seniors on the TMP squad this spring.

Only Bryan Brungardt of Plainville and Travis Wasinger, who graduated from Salina-Sacred Heart and moved to Hays for college, haven't played at TMP.

Hays opens its season Wednesday against Pratt at TMP Field.

The doubleheader starts at 6 p.m.

While the Hays Senior Legion Eagles got started right away after school ended, the Hays Monarchs got a week and a half to recuperate.

This spring, after being one of the favorites heading into the state tournament with a 22-1 record, TMP got upset in the first round 9-7 by Wellsville.

"It was a disappointing end to what was a really good season," Schumacher said. "Sometimes, the breaks don't go your way."

Schumacher said the time off can be helpful, and he hopes they'll be ready to play.

"With everybody being gone for so long, it's going to be interesting to see how everybody comes back," he said.

The squad features Nick Hammeke, Pierce Schippers and Shane Zimmerman, who took the majority of the turns on the mound this spring, but Schumacher said other players will get their opportunity to pitch as well, such as Taylor Pfeifer, Cameron Brin, Wasinger and Brungardt.

Schumacher said Zimmerman could see plenty of work, as he will head into next spring as the staff ace.

The Monarchs' schedule is a difficult one.

They will face teams from larger population areas, such as the Hays Eagles, Great Bend and Dodge City, for half of their doubleheaders, as well as Colby and Pratt.

"It is better for our kids if they play the tougher competition," Schumacher said.

"They will get more out of that rather than playing some of the smaller schools."

After coaching many of these players since they were in youth leagues, Schumacher said he's looking forward to see where the culmination of their development leads this summer.

"I think we have enough talent to do some things later down the season," he said. "We'll see what happens."

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