Redskins keep making hits at regionals

LITTLE RIVER— The Little River High School baseball team is still on the hunt in the Class 2-1A Regional Tournament after beating Ellinwood High School 18-3 and are two wins away of advancing to the state tournament. For that, the Redskins are today's Great Plains Federal Credit Union Team of the Week, presented by the McPherson Sentinel.

The Redskins hold the No. 2 seed in the Barton County region. They are in the same bracket as top-seeded team Sedgwick High School, Inman High School and Ellis High School. All four with a good chance of winning regionals and qualifying for state. For Redskin's Head Coach Terry Renken, he is confident that his team could come out on top because they are playing their best baseball right now.

In all three phases of baseball, what makes the Redskins a threat is their hitting. The Redskins beat Ellinwood in only four innings, and 18 runs. For those who follow Little River Baseball, that is the usual standard on how the Redskins been performing all year. After day one of regionals, Renken believes the Redskins were the best hitters compared to the other three teams that are still alive.

"We have some good kids that have a lot of strength, but we do a lot of hitting drills, and we spend a lot of time hitting," Renken said. "That's the fun thing of the game. We give them the green light all the time. They are more welcome to swing at any time. We don't take it until we get a strike. We just play the game and try to have fun with it instead of watching and throwing balls."

When asked who played a role in the Redskin's success at the plate, he mentioned his lead-off hitter Graham Stephens, who is above .500 in batting average this season and is the Redskin's leading home run hitter. Jayden Garrison and Keaton Richardson also factored in on the offensive side. It's fortunate for Renken because all three of them are sophomores. Overall it is a collective effort from his batting lineup.

"Graham Stephens is our No. 1 guy for right now, and as a sophomore. He hit a home run last night and his counterpart, Jayden Garrison, has hit the ball very well." Renken said. "As a team, I'm really impressed because we're a really good at-bat, especially with two strikes on us. Even our eight and nine hitters had some good (hits) at-bat. They battled really well.

As the Redskins focus on day two of regionals, Renken wants his players to win every inning from both sides of the ball. He doesn't want his Redskins to breakdown and leading toward one bad inning since that's all it takes to turn the game around. That's why he wants his Redskins to work on their energy level.

"Last night we had one inning where we walked two kids, and we had an error that led to three runs. We no-hit the team last night, but it didn't feel like it because that one inning we lost focus on our energy," Renken said. "With the heat and all that, we're have to stay focus and have energy at every inning. If we do have a bad inning, we just give them one or two runs and get after it offensive wise. We want to win every inning. That is the key."

The regional semifinals will begin at 2 p.m. when Sedgwick plays Inman. Little River will play Ellis right after. Winner will move on the regional championship later on at 6 p.m.

Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at pholland@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow him on Twitter @Petes_Picks_orour sports page @MacCountySports