High School : : General
Wednesday, April 13, 2011

HS Regional Preview: Great Plains

Todd Gold         Ben Collman        
Photo: Rod Kukuk

Perfect Game High School will releasing previews for each region in the coming weeks. The previews will be released two weeks prior to first regional rankings. The schedule is as follows:

Florida - Week of March 3

Southeast (AR, LA, MS, AL, GA, TN)- March 10

Pacific (CA, HI)- March 11

Texahoma (TX, OK- March 17

Southwest (NM, AZ, NV, UT)- Week of March 28

Midwest (WI, IL, IN, MI, OH, KY)- Week of April 4

Northeast (PA, NJ, NY, CT, RI, MA, VT, NH, ME)-Week of April 18

Northwest (WA, OR, ID, AK) - Week of April 25


Top Storylines

1. The Multi-Talented Bubba Starling

Gardner-Edgerton (KS) OF Derek "Bubba" Starling has a bright future ahead. But what that future will look like is up in the air. Starling is the 6th ranked player in the class of 2011 and the top Outfielder. He is signed with the University of Nebraska. But Starling has not signed up to just roam the outfield for the Huskers, he is a dual-sport commit who is considered to be one of the top Quarterback prospects in the country as well. Starling will no doubt hear his named called early in the MLB draft this June, leaving him with a very difficult decision to make. Either way, his talent makes him a good bet to be very successful.

2. Rocky Mountain's Streak in Jeopardy?

Rocky Mountain (CO) has won an incredible five consecutive state championships at the highest classification, 5A. After losing back to back games to fall to 3-3 on the season and key losses from last season (Marco Gonzales, Pierce Trumper and Luke White) some wondered if the Lobos' reign is over. But a closer look reveals that three of their losses came to quality opponents Boulder Creek (one of the top teams in AZ) and Regis Jesuit. Then they bounced back to beat previously undefeated Chaparral at Coors Field and have now won four of their past five, proving that it is far too early to count out a team coached by Scott Bullock.

3. Eden Prairie’s Bid to Repeat

No team in AAA has ever won back-to-back state championships in Minnesota. But reigning champ Eden Prairie looks to be the favorite this season with plenty of returning talent from a team that went 26-1 last year. With a prolific offense, three SPs who have signed to play Division 1 baseball (Lance Thornvold, Adam Bray and Grant Soderberg) and the 5th ranked prospect in the state, C Ryan Bull, its hard to envision the Eagles not making a deep run in the postseason. Though they have already matched last season's loss total (1), the 3-1 Eagles are the top ranked team in the state and still look like the team to beat. 

4. Emergence of Johnny Eierman

Warsaw (MO) SS Johnny Eierman was well known to rival coaches and players in Missouri for several years before his breakout performance at the 2010 PG National Showcase in June. But following his impressive performance at Tropicana Field and a strong followup at the Area Code Games in August Eierman was a well known name in the scouting community. The 6’ 1” 195 pound LSU signee made tremendous strides over the course of his Junior season as he learned to harness his bat speed and power and became a more polished hitter. A plus runner (6.46 60-yard dash) with good offensive potential, Eierman is the top prospect in Missouri.

5. The battle for Cornhusker State supremacy between Millard South and Papillion-LaVista South

Papillion-LaVista South got off to an 18-0 start, including a 7-6 win over Millard South on March 24. But that loss was Millard South's only defeat on the year, and they got a chance to avenge the loss on Monday, taking advantage of the opportunity with a 6-3 victory on a walk-off HR by Quentin Urban. With both teams sitting on one loss they look to be on a collision course for a matchup in the state title game. Millard South still has a tough matchup with Creighton Prep remaining on the regular season schedule while Papillion-LaVista South has a couple of solid teams left on its own schedule. In spite of the remaining hurdles it looks like these two will be the top seeds heading into the playoffs. It only seems fitting after splitting the season series that these two would meet for a third time, in the final game of the year.

Top Teams (alphabetical order)

Cherry Creek (CO)- Though the streak of five straight titles in the late 90’s is in the past, the Bruins have remained one of the top programs in the state in the years since. With an quick start it began to look like 2011 could be the year they reclaim the title in Colorado before some recent hiccups. How the Bruins respond will show what kind of team they are this year.

Christian Brothers (MO)- The defending Missouri 4A state champs are loaded once again with senior two-way star David Schmidt leading the way. When the Stanford commit is on the hill the Cadets are going to be tough to beat. The biggest question mark is: how will the rest of the staff fare in the postseason?

Eden Prairie (MN)- The back-to-back defending AAA champions, who lost just one game last season, began their title defense on Thursday with a win over Jefferson and followed it up with two more wins before taking their first loss of the year (and second in two years), a one-run affair to 4-0 Minnetonka. The Eagles still look to be the team to beat yet again.

Francis Howell (MO)- Defending Gateway League champions are led by Jake Ivory, Case Munson and Brett Graves, with a 16-2 start to the season the Vikings are looking like a serious threat to Christian Brothers' title defense...especially after beating them 10-3 in the Troy Classic title game in March.

Lawrence Free State (KS)- The Firebirds feature one of the top lefties in the region in Cody Kukuk and SS/RHP Colin Toalson who give them a good chance to contend for a state title. How far they can go in the postseason will hinge on who else steps up for the Firebirds. 

Mason City (IA)- Led by ace Brandon Platts, a Missouri commit who is the top ranked pitcher in the state, the Mohawks look to build off of last year's run to the state semi-finals where they lost to eventual champion Cedar Rapids Jefferson. With Jefferson star MIF Kellen Sweeney departed, Mason City looks like the favorite to take home the hardware in 2011.

Maize (KS)- The Eagles are looking to build off of last year’s run to the stat e semi-finals and are off to a promising start at 9-0. A traditional power in southern Kansas that produced Major League pitcher Nate Robertson, Maize looks like a contender for the state title yet again.

Papillion-LaVista South (NE)- RHP/OF Justin Paul is off to torid start for the 18-1 Titans, hitting .525/.600/.975 while posting a 0.54 ERA through 13 innings.

Rocky Mountain (CO)- The Lobos have won five consecutive 5A state championships, don’t be fooled by the slow start, this team is dangerous and has as good a shot as anyone to hold up the trophy at the end of the season.

Warsaw (MO)- Featuring one of the top players in the region in SS Johnny Eierman (.667 with 6 HR through 13 games), the Wildcats are off to a 13-0 start and look to be the favorites in Division 3.

Notable Matchups

Rockhurst @ Christian Brothers College -- April 25

Arguably the top team from the Kansas City area travels across the state to take on arguably the top team in the St. Louis area. Two traditional powers who are both off to good starts this season, looks to be an intriguing matchup.

Francis Howell @ Howell North – April 26

Cross-town rivals clash in a key Gateway League matchup that could have postseason implications. Howell won the first meeting on April 2nd in the semifinals of the 2011 Midwest Classic tournament. Howell went on to take the title, while North won the third place game.

Creighton Prep @ Millard South -- April 26

Millard South gets one final tough test in the regular season against last year's state runner-up while Prep will look to clinch a return trip to the postseason. 

Cherry Creek @ Grandview -- May 5

A rematch of last weeks blowout win for the Wolves featuring the state's top prospect, Grandview C Greg Bird against traditional powerhouse Cherry Creek. The Bruins are reeling right now with three straight losses, but they are a talented, well coached group who will have a chip on their shoulder for the rematch.

Lawrence Free State vs Lawrence – May 9 & 12

Free State swept the series last year with back to back dramatic victories over the Lions, a fact that surely has not been forgotten by Lawrence High, who will be out for revenge against their cross-town rivals.

PG High School Great Plains Dream Team

C- Greg Bird, Grandview (CO), Sr.

1B- Casey Gillaspie, Millard North (NE), Sr.

2B- Pat Kelly, Red Wing (MN), Sr.

3B- Case Munson, Francis Howell (MO), Sr.

SS- Johny Eierman, Warsaw (MO), Sr.

OF- Bubba Starling, Gardner-Edgerton (KS), Sr.

OF- Dakota Smith, Lansing (KS), Sr.

OF- Derrick Loveless, Solon (IA), Sr.

Util- Robert Youngdahl, Hill Murray (MN), Sr.

P- Cody Kukuk, LHP, Free State (KS), Sr.

P- Ryan Burr, RHP, Highlands Ranch (CO), Jr.

P- Brandon Platts, RHP, Mason City (IA), Sr.

P- David Schmidt, RHP, Christian Brothers (MO), Sr.

P- Austin Malinowski, LHP, Centennial (MN), Sr.

Regional Best Tools

Best Hitter For Average: Bubba Starling, Gardner Edgerton (KS), Sr.

Best Hitter For Power: Bubba Starling, Gardner Edgerton (KS), Sr.

Best Baserunner: Derrick Loveless, Solon (IA), Sr.

Best Defensive Catcher: Greg Bird, Grandview (CO), Sr.

Best Defensive Infielder: Johnny Eierman, Warsaw (MO), Sr.

Best Defensive Outfielder: Dakota Smith, Lansing (KS), Sr.

Best Infield Arm: Johnny Eierman, Warsaw (MO), Sr.

Best Outfield Arm: Connor McKay, Regis Jesuit (CO). Sr.*

Best Fastball: David Schmidt, RHP, Christian Brothers (MO), Sr.

Best Offspeed Stuff: Ryan Burr, RHP, Highlands Ranch (CO), Jr.

Best Command: Andrew Hedrick, LHP,  Ankeny (IA), Sr.

Best Pitchability: Cody Kukuk, LHP, Free State (KS), Sr.

*-not on Dreamteam due to injury

Follow us on Twitter @highschoolPG and on Facebook

Copyright 1994-2018 by Perfect Game. All rights reserved. No portion of this information may be reprinted or reproduced without the written consent of Perfect Game.