• KEY STRETCH FOR MHS GIRLS SOCCER — McPherson High’s girls soccer team arrives at the halfway point of its season Friday night when it entertains Hutchinson at McPherson Stadium.
The Bullpups of coach Chris Adrian are 6-1 so far, with five of the wins by shutout. The only loss was to Andover Central in the first round of the McPherson Invitational.
This is the first of two key games for MHS as it plays back-to-back 6A schools, with Derby being the other on the road Tuesday. Of course the Bullpups would like to win both games, but a split would probably be acceptable.
MHS dearly wants to qualify for the Class 4-1A Final Four, as McPherson College is the site of this year’s event.
This is a young Bullpup team as it doesn’t start a single senior. Adrian also has more depth than at any time during his tenure as back-to-back strong classes have increased the numbers and talent level. He has several key sophomores and freshmen this season.
• ROYALS FINALLY LOSE — Darn, I really thought the Kansas City Royals would go 162-0 this season.
The Royals finally lost their first game on Wednesday, 3-1 to Minnesota. The lineup that had been so potent through seven games returned — for one night at least — to the popgun attack the team had to constantly overcome last year with its pitching and defense.
KC starting pitcher Edinson Volquez certainly deserved a better fate. He made one mistake, a sinker that didn’t sink, and it resulted in a two-run homer. Through two games he’s definitely looked like a pitcher that is a solid No. 3 man to have in the rotation.
I just wonder if the Royals would have lost had it not been for the open day on Tuesday. They were on a serious roll and were playing with such confidence and carrying themselves with a swagger. However, they didn’t seem to have the same attitude on Wednesday.
Oh well, time to start a new streak this afternoon before returning home for Billy Butler and the Oakland A’s.
• GOOD START FOR BUTLER — Speaking of the uber-popular “Country Breakfast,” who severed his ties with the team after eight seasons, he’s off to a good start with his new team.
Butler is hitting .359 through his first 10 games with a homer and six RBIs. He has three doubles as well as he’s warming up to his spacious new home park.
There were whispers last season that Butler’s bat speed and power had waned. He had only nine homers last year and 32 doubles, a far cry from his high-water mark of 2012 when he homered 29 times and also hit 32 doubles. In 2011, he hit 19 homers and a whopping 44 doubles. Don’t forget his 2009 season when he clouted 51 doubles, which is hard to believe considering he is slow of foot.
I’m sure Butler will be given a Standing O on his first at-bat on Friday. He gave the Royals a lot of good years and should be treated accordingly.
• HCC LOADING UP ON IN-STATERS — Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball coach Steve Eck generally has the market cornered on the Kansas in-state recruits who don’t go D-I.
Eck’s string of success is continuing this offseason. He’s signed Wichita East’s All-State All-Class Semjae Jones, Derby standout James Conley, Otis-Bison scoring machine Kyle Patrick (who’s father Erin used to coach at Elyria Christian School) and Hutchinson High standout Trent Webster.
All of those players are guard-types. Eck no doubt will use his allotted number of out-of-state scholarships for big men.
Because of the evolution of prep schools, the talent pool of junior college standouts has been drained. When I covered juco basketball in the 1970s, you saw a lot of JC players make huge impacts on the NCAA Division I game. Now it’s not so much.
Speaking of prep schools, one of the most popular is Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita. Patrick Muldoon, who played for Basehor-Linwood in the state championship game against McPherson High last month, reportedly will be attending Sunrise for next year. Muldoon battled foul trouble in the title game and wasn’t that much of a factor. He was a first-team Class 4A Division I All-State selection.