Now that the Pratt Greenbacks have finally reached the state tournament, the task becomes winning that first game and sticking around for Saturday.


In order to do that, Pratt must beat the No. 7 Maize South Mavericks at 4 p.m. today.


Now that the Pratt Greenbacks have finally reached the state tournament, the task becomes winning that first game and sticking around for Saturday.

In order to do that, Pratt must beat the No. 7 Maize South Mavericks at 4 p.m. today.

The Mavericks head to state with a 15-8 record and are in just their second season of existence after opening the brand-new school in 2009. Last year’s team was predominantly freshman and sophomores coming over from 6A Maize High. Now those players are sophomores and juniors, with the exception of three senior players.

“They can run the bases really well,” said Pratt coach Pat Stivers. “They’re very aggressive. They have some younger kids and a mixture of older kids, a lot similar to our team. They don’t have a lot of power, but they’ve got a couple guys who can swing it pretty well. They’re all really disciplined at the plate, kind of pesky. They’ll make us throw a lot of pitches.”

The Greenbacks and Mavericks have just one common opponent on their schedules in Kingman. Pratt split a doubleheader with the Eagles while Maize South pounded them 11-0 in regionals last week.

“From what I hear, they’re a quality team,” Stivers said. “They have three good pitchers. A good righty and two good lefties. For us, it’s just a matter of trying to play a clean ball game and give ourselves a chance in the late innings to win a ball game.”

Judging from some of their losses, if Pratt plays their game and stays away from the bad defense that earned them their three losses, they should come out on top.

Maize South has options on the mound against Pratt. They can throw their top pitcher, Zach Keller (5-1, 2.15 ERA) or they can throw Kane McCarthy (3-1, 2.65) or Stefan Bray (4-2, 2.38).

Pratt will counter with B.J. Dean (8-1, 1.01), who has been lights out and will get 12 innings with which to work with over the 48-hour period. If Pratt can build a lead and hand the game over to their bullpen, that would set them up for Dean to start in the semifinal or final on Saturday.

“He came off probably the best outing I’ve seen him throw at Ulysses,” he said. “He’s come out and thrown a couple bullpens and looked really sharp. Skylar Dean, Austin Barnard, Jarod and Justin Gilmore – they’ve all looked good throwing the ball this week too.”

Stivers has done his best to glean information from fellow coaches and resources, but admitted he doesn’t know a whole lot about what the Mavericks will do. 

“The problem is, you get a couple scouting reports, and one of them says the skies the limit, the other one says they’re an average ball club,” he said. “So you don’t know until you face them.”

While Pratt hasn’t seen Maize South this season, they did play last year in Pratt, and the Greenbacks had no trouble dispatching the Mavericks, sweeping 11-6 and 18-6. Of course, Pratt was a different team last year also, with Skylar Angood and Brad Richardson anchoring the lineup.

Either way, Stivers said his kids are excited for the opportunity and are going to make the most of their trip to state.

“The kids are excited,” he said. “I don’t think it’s too big a stage for us. These kids have all been to state in legion baseball and regionals and have experienced big moments. They’ve all had high expectations for themselves and their teams, so this is just another stepping stone for them and our program.”

First pitch is set for 4 p.m. in Salina. Greenback fans can listen to the game on KMMM or follow online at www.golivebaseball.com/kshsaa4ast2011.htm.