Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Hayden Boys Eye Another 4A Title ; Hayden: Arnold Says Tourney Field 'Pretty Even'

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Hayden Boys Eye Another 4A Title ; Hayden: Arnold Says Tourney Field 'Pretty Even'

Article excerpt

Technically, Hayden's baseball team can't defend the state title it won last season, with Class 4A being split into two divisions for 2014.

But Bill Arnold's 16-6 Wildcats, the No. 4 seed, will have the opportunity to become the state's first 4A Division I champ, opening their state bid at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Salina's Dean Evans Stadium against 15-7 Paola.

Hayden takes a 10-game winning streak into state, with three of its six losses coming against teams (Manhattan and Washburn Rural) who are in the 6A state tournament.

"I think the kids have been pretty consistent all year long and I feel like we're playing pretty well," Arnold said. "We hit the ball really well at regionals and I think our pitching and defense have been pretty good all year long.

"Any time you play in a state tournament in Kansas that first game's so important. It's a one-and-done deal so the focus is that you've got to win the first one and then let the chips fall where they may."

The Hayden-Paola winner will move on to an 11 a.m. Friday semifinal to face the winner of the first-round matchup (11 a.m. Thursday) between top seed Fort Scott (19-3) and Andover Central (15- 7).

On the other side of the Division I bracket No. 2 seed Andale- Garden Plain (19-3) will face Rose Hill (15-7) at 4 p.m. Thursday, while No. 3 seed De Soto (17-4) will face Tonganoxie (15-7) in the final game of the first round at 6:30. The championship game is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday.

"When you look at the (bracket), with the exception of Andale and Fort Scott, the records are all pretty tight," Arnold said. "And I know Andover Central's the eighth seed but five through eight were all tied at 15-7 and Andover Central probably plays the most comparable schedule to us as anybody.

"It looks pretty even to me. When you were dealing with 64 teams in (4A), the way the regionals came out a few times you might get a few weak teams in there but I think everybody here is going to be pretty competitive. …

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