• GREAT START FOR NETTERS, MHS FALL SPORTS — Thursday’s narrow victory in the Hesston Invitational Girls Tennis Tournament could be the firestarter for a massive fall sports season at McPherson High.
The Bullpups, with three state returnees among their top six, were given a mighty push from county school Smoky Valley, which appears to have one of the best teams in coach John Bellah’s career. MHS finished just a single point ahead of the Vikings, whose No. 1 doubles team of Katie Bellah and Emily Roets was upset in the first round and that changed the entire complexion of the tournament. Bellah and Roets were fifth in the state last year.
Optimism is brimming for all MHS sports. The volleyball team, which opens Saturday at Hutchinson, should again be among the top teams in Class 4A Division I after finishing second in the state last year. The boys soccer team has a great chance to make the Final Four if some younger players can augment a strong group of returnees. The football team will tackle one of the toughest schedules in school history, but if it stays healthy should have an outstanding year. And Aspen Frey has brought a lot of optimism as the new cross country coach.
Check out all the teams, as well as the McPherson Middle School teams, at tonight's Fall Preview at McPherson Stadium. A list of events is posted elsewhere online.
• BIG WEEKEND FOR ROYALS — Kansas City's offense was rather sleepy in Miami — six runs in three games — but nevertheless the Royals came away with another series victory by taking two of three.
Kansas City really needed that game. I have a feeling it could be a rough go when the Royals play three this weekend at Boston, which has been slugging teams into submission. But at least the Royals have Ian Kennedy, Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura going, their three hottest pitchers.
The Royals can ill-afford a slump of any kind right now as they have such little margin for error. While they're not that far back in the wild-card race, there's a lot of teams between them and a playoff spot.
The highlight of the Royals' game Thursday was Jarrod Dyson's amazing first-inning catch when he made like Spiderman scaling the wall. Dyson doesn't see much time anymore due to the emergence of Paulo Orlando and his own declining production, but that catch made everyone remember "that's what speed do," as Dyson likes to say.
• CHIEFS AT CHICAGO — The Chiefs play their third of four exhibition games at noon Saturday in Chicago.
Somebody is going to win for the first time as both teams are 0-2. However, little stock is put in exhibition records as the Chiefs' front-line players have left each of the first two games with the lead.
The good news coming out of KC camp is that Eric Berry reportedly is going to return to the team for the first time on Sunday. He has stayed away from camp due to a contract dispute.
The secondary, at least from what I've seen, has been the weak link so far. Without Berry and the departed Sean Smith (who signed with Oakland), the back four suddenly looks vulnerable. Because of the absence of linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston due to injuries, even more pressure is on the secondary to make plays.
I'm sure Berry has kept himself in top shape and he'll make a seamless transition. While he's lost a step or two speed-wise, he's still smart and cagey, not to mention a big hitter.