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Busboom putting up amazing numbers

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Generally, the MIAA coaches, regardless of sport, don't award MIAA Player of the Year honors to athletes that don't play for a team that won the conference title. However, the baseball coaches could change that trend for Fort Hays State University junior left fielder Ryan Busboom.

Busboom is batting .405 with 16 homers and 64 RBIs for a Tiger squad that is 25-19, 19-16 MIAA and currently fourth in the conference.

"I think he has earned it," second-year coach Steve Johnson said. "A couple weeks ago, somebody asked me that question and I said, well, there is still 12, 15 games (left). He just has been able to maintain his numbers and actually increased his lead in a lot of major categories."

Busboom, a first-year transfer from Barton County Community College and the reigning MIAA Hitter of the Week, stands third nationally in homers and RBIs per game and could become Fort Hays' first All-American since Dusty Washburn in 2008. He ranks second in the MIAA in average and has massive leads in homers, RBIs, total bases and slugging percentage. Defensively, he has committed one error.

"I would seriously hope that they give him the credit that he deserves," Johnson said.

One goal clinched

After a 2-10 start, the Tigers changed the team's goals to achieving a winning season and finishing in the top six in the MIAA and making the conference tournament.

The Tigers picked up two home wins against Wayne State (Neb.) College, ranked in the Midwest Region, last weekend. FHSU is 23-9 in its last 32 games and has clinched a winning season. Fort Hays will conclude the regular season this weekend against Missouri Western State University (30-14, 23-11 MIAA) in a four-game series starting Friday night at Larks Park. FHSU can secure a conference tournament bid in a variety of ways, including winning one game this weekend.

Johnson, who coached at Butler County Community College for seven years before he came to Fort Hays, has had one team flip its season like the Tigers have - his 2006 squad that reached the Junior College World Series.

"You never know where teams are going to go," he said. "They hung together. If you had told me that with a week left in the regular season, we would have clinched a winning season, then you'd take it and run with it."

Pitching vs. hitting

While Fort Hays has had the MIAA's top offense all season, Missouri Western has won more with pitching. FHSU stands first in team batting average at .333 and runs (332), while the Griffons are second in earned-run average (3.34). Brandon Simmons (10-2, 1.61 ERA) and Nik Jurado (7-1, 1.72 ERA) are Western's top two pitchers and second and third, respectively, in ERA in the conference.

Fort Hays will start senior ace Shawn Lewick (6-3, 3.36 ERA) will start Game 1 for the Tigers. Johnson compares Western to University of Central Missouri, the MIAA's top team. FHSU won three of four against UCM at home earlier this season.