By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
PITTSBURG, Kan. —
Keith Matlock’s fellow SEK coaches aren’t giving him any opportunity to settle into the league.
Matlock joins Pittsburg High School after coaching the past five seasons at Girard. His Purple Dragons were picked first in the 99.1 FM ESPN SEK baseball preaseason coaches’ poll Monday at Watco in Pittsburg.
“I’m jumping into a new job, and here we are at the top,” Matlock said.
He will be greeted by seven seniors and five returning starters from a team that advanced to the Class 4A state tournament last year. Senior Spencer Bernhardt returns after making the all-SEK first team in 2012.
Pittsburg finished in a three-way tie with Independence and Iola for last year’s SEK title.
Despite coaching in the CNC the past five seasons, the SEK isn’t new to Matlock, who played collegiately at Pittsburg State. He is a 1995 graduate of Chanute High School and served as an assistant at Chanute before taking over at Girard.
Fort Scott received one first-place vote and was second with 36 points. Independence earned two first-place votes and was third with 32 points. Chanute (30) was fourth, followed by Labette County (25), Coffeyville (18) and Parsons (14). Iola and Columbus left the SEK for different leagues this year.
Independence finished atop the SEK softball poll with five first-place votes and 35 points. Labette County was second with 26 points.
The Fort Scott Tigers earned the other two first-place votes and finished in third with 25 points.
Chanute (22) was fourth, followed by Pittsburg (21), Coffeyville (9) and Parsons (9).
Pittsburg coach Mary Packard said she is excited about the players she has returning.
“We’re finally not in a rebuilding mode,” Packard said. “We lost only two seniors from last year.”
Shortstop and pitcher Andie Casper returns after receiving all-SEK recognition last year. The Dragons also return pitcher Mercedes Vogel.
99.1 FM ESPN SEK baseball preseason coaches’ poll
1. Pittsburg (4) 41
2. Fort Scott (1) 36
3. Independence (2) 32
4. Chanute 30
5. Labette County 25
6. Coffeyville 18
7. Parsons 14
99.1 FM ESPN SEK softball coaches’ poll
1. Independence (5) 35
2. Labette County 26
3. Fort Scott (2) 25
4. Chanute 22
5. Pittsburg 21
6t. Coffeyville 9
6t. Parsons 9