In his first year as the manager of the Bee Jays, Brandon Kitch learned quick which team you have to beat if you want to make it to the NBC World Series.
“Hays is the team to beat,” he said.
Yes, it’s way too ealry to start talking about the national tournament, or at least it is for almost everybody but Liberal.
The Bee Jays have been to the tournament 52 of the past 56 years. It is almost a birthrite for the program.
So it is never too early to lok at key league match-ups that could determine Liberal’s chances at getting to Lawrence Dumont Stadium.
The next two games are key, even if it doesn’t really feel like it yet.
Two of three scenarios would be acceptable, but a third coul dbe harmful to the Bee Jays chances off winning the Jayhawk League.
Sweeping the two games from the Larks would put the Bee Jays in first place. Obviously, that’s the best place to be, even though there is a lot of baseball to be played.
Splitting with the Larks on the road is not bad, either. hat would leave the Bee Jays a game and a half out of the league lead, but thatis certainly no tough mountain to climb.
Getting swept, however, will make for a very tough road back to the top. Losing both will put the Bee Jays three-and-a-half games back. In the Jayhawk League, that’s tough to make up. It’s not impossible, but it is extremely difficult. And, the Bee Jays will be chasing a team that will have a world of confidence and a 6-1 record. Not an easy road.
Already the pecking order is being established in the league. Barring a dramatic turnaround, last year’s league champions, Haysville, may end at the bottom this year. Hays is still battling at the top, and the surprise Dodge City A’s are off to their best start since joining the Jayhawk League.
Liberal knew they were in the naitonal tournament last year after winning the title in 2010 and autoatic bid for 2011. This year, they will have to earn their way in, which means no worse than a top two finish to get a guaranteed ticket.
There’s no need to wait for late-season heroics if you take care of business when it maters early, which is why these two games against Hays are important.
The players may not realize it in either dugout, but these two games will mean a lot six weeks from now.