By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
PITTSBURG, Kan. —
The bull’s-eye is clearly painted on the Frontenac Raiders.
Frontenac received all but one first-place vote and was picked atop the 99.1 FM ESPN CNC baseball preseason coaches’ poll, which was released Monday at Watco in Pittsburg.
The reasons for the target are obvious. The Raiders won the Class 3A state championship last year and return the bulk of that team.
“You’re loaded, and if you don’t win the league you should probably be fired,” St. Mary’s-Colgan coach Mike Watt joked to Frontenac coach Bill Sullivan during his time to address fellow coaches and media.
Frontenac returns six All-CNC players with senior pitcher Matt Standlee, senior catcher Bryan Wade, junior infielder and pitcher Brett McCary, senior pitcher Blake Vail and senior outfielder Bryce Burdette.
Standlee and Vail have signed at Pittsburg State, while Burdette has verbally committed to Missouri Valley and Wade has had visits with several schools.
“We have several guys going to play college,” Sullivan said. “I feel like we got nine or 10 guys who can play at the next level if that’s something they want to do.”
Still, Sullivan realizes that his Raiders haven’t won anything yet this season.
“There’s not a give-me on the schedule in the CNC,” he said. “You better come to play every night. There are great coaches in this league.”
The Raiders also will be challenged as they move up from Class 3A to 4A this season.
“We’d love to have the opportunity to get it back,” Sullivan said. “Moving to 4A is going to make things difficult. It will be a whole different ball game.”
Colgan, which lost to Frontenac in last year’s 3A regional, earned the only other first-place vote and was second in the poll with 35 points.
The Panthers return a pair of all-CNC performers in senior outfielder Nate Grimaldi and junior pitcher Christian Cedeno.
Riverton and Girard tied for this in the poll with 24 points each, while Baxter Springs (18) was fifth, Columbus (17) and Southeast (17) tied for sixth and Galena (15) was eighth.
Dusty Karnes takes over a Baxter Springs program with a great tradition and almost 40 players out for the team.
“We’re excited,” Karnes said. “We have a lot of young kids. We might suprise some people.”
Frontenac also earned the top spot in the softball poll with seven first-place votes and 49 points.
The Raiders return eight of nine starters with all eight earning all-CNC recognition last season.
Girard (40), which also returns eight starters, was second with the only other first-place vote. Columbus (33) was third, followed by Riverton (27), Baxter Springs (26), Colgan (21), Southeast (18) and Galena (10).
99.1 FM ESPN CNC baseball preseason coaches’ poll
1. Frontenac (6) 42
2. Colgan (1) 35
3t. Riverton 24
3t. Girard 24
5. Baxter Springs 18
6t. Columbus 17
6t. Southeast 17
8. Galena 15
99.1 FM ESPN CNC softball preseason coaches’ poll
1. Frontenac (7) 49
2. Girard (1) 40
3. Columbus 33
4. Riverton 27
5. Baxter Springs 26
6. Colgan 21
7. Southeast 18
8. Galena 10