Lancers baseball coach credits seniors with turning season around, getting to state

The Lancers celebrated their regional victories last weekend.

Coach Jerrod Ryherd saw that his SM East baseball team had the talent to make 2011 special. But after a four game mid-season losing streak, he knew it was going to take a change in attitude for the Lancers to reach their potential.

After a tough loss to SM West, Ryherd put a challenge to his seniors.

“I called the seniors out,” Ryherd said. “I told them there was no reason we shouldn’t be able to make it to state this year, but they had to start acting like leaders. They had to be the guys to add some spark.”

The next game, Ryherd said, it was like a different team had taken the field.

“They were the ones out there getting each other fired up,” Ryherd said. “I wasn’t the only one having to be the motivator. It was one of the most fun games I’ve ever coached, to be honest.”

Though the Lancers actually lost that game 6-7 to Lawrence, Ryherd said it marked the start of a turnaround that culminated with a two-win showing at regionals last weekend, propelling the Lancers to the state tournament for the first time since 2006.

Pitcher Brennan Burns will take the mound for the Lancers Friday against Wichita Northwest. If the Lancers advance Friday, they’ll play again Saturday at 10 a.m. A victory there would put them in the state championship game Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

The game tomorrow starts at 1:30 p.m. at Hoglund Stadium on the campus of the University of Kansas. Tickets are $7 for adults, $6 for K-12 students. See the state tournament bracket here.