Qualifying for postseason play should be as simple as learning your ABCs.
The Great Bend Bat Cats learned the hard lesson that qualifying for the NBC World Series in a virus-plagued season wasn’t easy.
Great Bend coach Roger Ward learned the Bat Cats (16-16 Sunflower, 19-20) were close to qualifying. The NBC World Series invited 13 teams, three from the Sunflower Collegiate League (Hutchinson, Cheney, Rose Hill) and two others from Kansas (Liberal, Hays).
Ward said Kevin Jenks, World Series director, hinted that the Bat Cats would’ve qualified had their earned a winning record. The Bat Cats won three times against the Liberal Bee Jays.
“When Kevin Jenks saw us play at Wichita State, we didn’t play good baseball,” Ward said. “We weren’t happy sitting at home for postseason. We faced a tough schedule to get there. But we held our own. In a normal NBC year, we’d qualify for the first week of the tournament.”
The high-school based Kansas City All-Stars finished 0-2 and were outscored 22-1 in two games. Ward said an invited Texas team played seven regular-season games.
“With the college season shut down, inviting a high-school type team took an opportunity away from a college-level baseball team,” Ward said.
Ward said he was proud the Bat Cats finished the season 6-2 and split a four-game series with Liberal to finish 19-20.
“We beat the Liberal pitcher who won an NBC game against the Hutchinson Monarchs. I told our guys how proud I was of them,” he said. “The season-ending series had nothing on the line except pride. We had high energy. It was a highly competitive series. It was very rewarding to see our guys stayed together and battled to the end.”
Ward said the Bat Cats’ pitching was good enough to compete. It was a gradual learning process to get the hitters to grind out a two-strike approach and put the baseball in play.
“You have to do what it takes to put the ball in play,” Ward said. “We kept working in the batting cage and saw guys make progress which was gratifying. Our guys represented Great Bend the right way. Our fan support was incredible.”
New lights will be installed for the 2021 baseball season at Al Burns Field.
GREAT BEND BAT CATS (16-16, 19-20)
WLL—Bats Cats vs. Liberal BeeJays, 9-2; 3-6; 3-18
WWLW—Bats Cats vs. Mulvane Patriots, 10-5, 9-5, 4-7; 4-3
LWLL—Bats Cats vs. Rose Hill Sluggers, 0-2; 5-1; 2-10; 8-14
WWWW—Bats Cats vs. Sunflower Seeds, 23-8, 5-4, 7-5, 10-4
LLLL—Bats Cats vs. Cheney D-Dawgs, 3-7, 4-7, 1-9, 3-6
WWWL—Bats Cats at Haysville Aviators, 5-3, 6-5, 16-4, 4-5
LLLL—Bats Cats vs. Hutchinson Monarchs, 6-8, 4-13, 6-8, 2-8
WLLL—Bats Cats vs. Derby Twins, 4-8, 3-13, 6-3, 6-7
WWWW—Bats Cats vs. Newton Rebels, 9-6, 6-4
LWLW—Bats Cats vs. Liberal Beejays 5-11, 5-2, 3-14, 7-6
SUNFLOWER COLLEGIATE LEAGUE
Cheney Diamond Dawgs 26-6 35-6
Hutchinson Monarchs 26-6 29-7
Rose Hill Sluggers 22-10 26-13
Great Bend Bat Cats 16-16 19-20
Derby Twins 16-16 16-18
Newton Rebels 12-20 15-21
Mulvane Patriots 10-22 12-22
Sunflower Seeds 9-23 9-23
Haysville Aviators 7-25 9-28
8-6–Cheney Diamond Dawgs 2, Hays Larks 1; Houston Express 5, Rose Hill Sluggers 3; Hutchinson Monarchs 5, Hattiesburg, Miss. Black Sox 4
8-5–Hutchinson Monarchs 12, KC All-Stars 1; Rose Hill Sluggers 9, Colorado Cyclones 7
8-4–Liberal Bee Jays 2, Hutchinson Monarchs 0
8-3–Denver Cougars 6, Rose Hill Sluggers 5