Wiley has fielded their own team since 2014. The team includes 5 players from Eads who came across when the Eagles failed to field a team for the first in 60 years. The Panthers are pictured here at Denver Christian on Tuesday, March 14.
It’s really shocking to think about but Eads will not field a baseball team this year. According to the book Kiowa County, a local history book written in 1976, Eads Baseball originally began in 1920 and was played in the high school each year except for 1959-1963. It has since been going each spring for the past 60 years—until now.
According to Eads Athletic Director Trey Eder, “The high school was unable to field a baseball team this year as there was not enough interest. Five Eads players have decided to play with Wiley this year and the Panthers have accepted them.”
Eder went on to say that Eads has started a boys junior high baseball team that is coached by Justin Lenox and there are 18-19 players on the team. That schedule is still being worked up since this is a new concept. Hopefully that means Eads High School will eventually build interest back up enough to field baseball teams in the future.
Eads players walking onto the Wiley team include senior Brenden Reifschneider, sophomores Case Nelson and Spencer Uhland, and freshmen Johnny Vasquez and Shaine Winder. There 17 total players on the Panthers team.
Reifschneider, Nelson, and Uhland were all starters on the Eads team from a year ago when the Eagles went 8-9 and were 6-4 (4th place) in the very tough Arkansas Valley League. Eads lost in the sweet sixteen in the state playoffs losing to Evangelical Christian Academy, 13-2.
Uhland will bring the best team batting average to Wiley as last year he hit .533 as a freshman and was second in On Base Percentage at .600. Uhland was also first in RBIs with 17, third on the team with runs scoring 11 times, and third with 16 hits on the season.
Nelson, as a freshman a year ago, was first in On Base Percentage at .605, first in triples with 2, and second in stolen bases with 9. Nelson is also a valuable southpaw pitcher carrying 5.18 ERA and taking on most of the pressure on the mound for Eads from the mound.
The Wiley group is also facing something new this year as they have split away from the coop known as the County Line Rivals, a 2A baseball team consisting of players from Wiley and McClave. The Rivals had been in existence since the 2014-2015 baseball season.
Wiley brings to their own team some key players from last year’s Rivals team. To on the list is junior Evan Larrick who led the Rivals in batting average with and impressive .567 average and a .609 on base percentage. He was second in hits on the team with 29, third in RBIs with 22, first in triples with 3, and had the best slugging percentage at .888. Larrick can also contribute on the mound and last year did some work for the Rivals carrying a 7.00 ERA.
Panther senior Ty Michael was also a key player for the Rivals a year ago. Michael hit at a .373 batting average, scored 23 runs, had 22 hits on the season and hit 9 doubles and one dinger. The Panthers will also look to junior James Pearson to help them offensively. With the Rivals a year ago Pearson hit .364, led in RBIs with 25, had 3 doubles and 3 homeruns. He would carry a .690 slugging average.
The ace for Wiley on the mound a year ago was senior Jace Parker who carried 7.91 ERA. He also hit at .324. The Panthers will look to him and Nelson to be a good combination from the mound.
Wiley sophomore Rhett McDonald put in quite a bit of time on the Rivals team, as well, a year ago. As a freshman McDonald hit at a .375 pace.
Other players Wiley will depend on include seniors Daigan Adame, Diego Juarez, and Cooper Tixier; junior Rachel Kopasz; and freshmen Erik Gonzales, Dixie Bitner, and Conner Karr.
Wiley picked up an unscheduled game at Denver Christian last Tuesday, March 14, and came away with a 4-0 loss. Not a bad showing for early in the season and for players who are still getting used to their new situation. Wiley would only manage two hits in the contest and gave up 3 errors. The Denver crew had 6 hits and didn’t commit a single error.