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Warriors take 2nd in state

Staff writer

Losing Friday to St. Mary’s-Colgan in the state championship game, 13-3, in Great Bend, Marion became this year’s Class 2-1A baseball runner-up, finishing the season with a 21-3 record.

“In the finals, we just ran into the Colgan death star,” coach Roger Schroeder said. “They are a fantastic program that has competed at a high level for a long time,

“Coach Mike Watt is the best in the business in our state, and we knew we were going to have to play a clean game to give ourselves an opportunity. We just made too many mistakes and gave them too many opportunities.”

The Warriors came into the state tournament on a 15-game winning streak after defeating Chase County for a regional title.

They extended their winning streak to 17 by eliminating Sedgwick, 10-5, in the state’s first round and Elkhart, 16-8, in the semifinals.

“It was such a fun week, and I thought our team competed very well against the best in the state,” Schroeder said.

Senior Nathan Hoffner played his last high school game in the semifinal against Elkhart.

Up to bat, a pitch hit his face. Blood poured from his nose, causing staff to rush to his aid.

Hoffner had to exit the game and was rushed to a Great Bend hospital.

“Before the pitch, I was just thinking that I needed to just get a hit and keep the momentum up after they switched pitchers so we could score more runs,” Hoffner said. “After the pitch, I was just concerned about getting some help just to see if I could go back and cheer on the team and let them know I was OK.”

He did not need surgery or stitches.

“All I was concerned about was hoping that the team kept playing and didn’t lose hope,” Hoffner said. “I was watching the game and cheering them on from the ER.”

The boys didn’t lose hope and kept playing to advance to the championship game.

“It was Great Bend or bust, and our guys were more than willing to accept that,” Schroeder said. “We made sure they were aware of the expectations every time we took the field. We printed the final date of the state tournament on our warm-up shirts that we wear on game days.”

Jack Lanning led the team this season with a .549 batting average, a .652 on-base percentage, 27 stolen bases, 44 runs, and 39 hits.

Lander Smith was right behind him with a .383 batting average, a .535 on-base percentage, 30 runs scored, 30 runs batted in.

Hayden Mendoza led the team with a 1.88 earned run average, while Gavin Wasmuth led with a 0.988 fielding percentage.

Lanning, Cooper Bailey, Ian Ingels, and Mitch Norris all scored one home run for the season. The most memorable came from Norris in the state semifinal game Thursday, a two-run homer against Elkhart.

“We were one of 10 baseball teams in the entire state of Kansas that had the privilege of playing a game Friday night,” Schroeder said. “While we came up short of the ultimate goal of winning a state championship, we checked every other box all the way through the season. Undefeated HOA League champions, regional champions, and another state final four. We’re going to hang a banner, which is always the goal.”

Last modified June 1, 2023

 

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