Rocky Helm led Maize (Maize, Kan.) to baseball state titles in 2003 and 2005, but the 2011 season was truly special. The Eagles went 25-0 en route to their third state championship, outscored their opponents by an absurd 272 runs and drew comparisons to some of the greatest high school teams in Sunflower State history.
What could the Eagles possibly do for an encore?
Helm put it upon this year’s group of seniors to lead the way after Maize graduated eight players from last year’s record-setting team.
In addition to ace Craig Nicks, the group includes Blake Pontius, who doubles as the quarterback on the Maize football team and moved into the rotation after not pitching a single inning last year.
Shortstop Ryan McBroom hit .450 as an everyday starter on last year’s team and says this year’s squad is full of competitors who won’t be lacking for motivation.
Braxon Byfieldis thriving in his first year as a starter behind the plate. He remembers the celebration after last year’s state tournament fondly and he’s determined to experience it again.
DJ McClure is the Eagles’ fiery centerfielder. He knows his team needs to rack up wins in order to host regionals.
If Maize was lacking motivation at the start of the season, their fire was fueled when Hutchinson (Hutchinson, Kansas) snapped the Eagles’ 29-game winning streak. The loss brought the team closer together and also proved that repeating as state champions won’t be easy.