The Hays Larks will open the season against the Denver Cougars at 7 p.m. Friday at Larks Park.
The Larks went 35-12 overall last season, reached the National Baseball Congress World Series and won their 10th Jayhawk League championship. They were then forced to find a new league after Derby, El Dorado, Great Bend and Haysville left the Jayhawk League, established in 1976, for the Sunflower League.
The Larks will enter a new chapter this summer in their first season in Kansas Collegiate League Baseball, formerly known as the Walter Johnson League. The Dodge City A's and Liberal Bee Jays will be joining the Larks in the KCLB after the Jayhawk League disbanded. The three teams will make up the KCLB's West Division.
The other seven teams in the KCLB — the Wellington Heat, Kansas Cannons, Valley Center Mud Daubers, McPherson Pipeliners, Park City Rangers, Clearwater Outlaws and the Kansas Curve — will comprise the East Division.
Frank Leo enters his 37th season as Larks manager. Top returners from last summer include pitcher Michael Wong and third baseman/pitcher Wyatt Divis. Both players play at Division I Texas-Arlington.
Wong went 4-1 with a 2.77 ERA for the Larks last summer while Divis hit .340 with 29 runs batted in. He also went 3-0 on the mound with a 1.17 ERA in relief appearances.
Hays will play Denver again on Saturday at 6 p.m. before opening league play against Dodge City at 7 p.m. Sunday.
Sunday is Military Appreciation Night. All active, reserve and retired military personnel will be honored before the game. They are asked to meet on the east side of the grandstand at 6:45 p.m.