It could be the year of the Indians again in the Suburban Middle Six in baseball.

It could be the year of the Indians again in the Suburban Middle Six in baseball.
Fort Osage, in The Examiner’s poll of the coaches, is a slim favorite. Then came Lee’s Summit West, defending champion Raytown, Belton, North Kansas City and Raytown South. A coach couldn’t rank his own team.
Fort Osage received three first-place votes, Raytown two and West one, so a close race is likely.
Fort Osage was the 2006 and 2007 champion and placed second in 2008 on the way to a 15-10 record and the district finals.
Nine letter winners – Parker Jones, Johnnie Johnson, Mario Armstrong, Chad Gordon, Zach Jungemeyer, Jesse Kribbs, Rueben Walcott, Dominique Ramirez and Brett Sutton – give coach Chris Walker’s eighth Fort Osage team a solid nucleus.
“We are excited about the 2009 season,” Walker said. ‘We are hoping to build off our strong finish from last year. We have a good mix of talent on all grade levels. We expect that translates into a successful season.”

LEES SUMMIT WEST
West graduated only two starters from a Suburban Small Six championship 16-7 team.
“I like our chances,” coach Jay Meyer said. “Three of our main pitchers are back.”

RAYTOWN
The Blue Jays return Chase Kuehl, Twydell Love, Cody Robinson, Wesley Spilker, Wesley Suydam, Daniel Swank and Robert Vaughn from a 19-7 team.
“It’s going to be very tough replacing the talent we lost last year due to graduation,” coach Jaime Oyler said. “We had five players graduate who are now playing college baseball.
“We will be very inexperienced on the hill. Defensively, we are returning a catcher, shortstop and first baseman. Strengths are a very solid middle of the order and the leadership of eight senior letter winners.”

BELTON
Belton expects to improve upon a 12-10 record.
“We had a down year because of injuries to three key players,” coach George Shrum said. “That led us to play young players who should step up after a year’s experience as sophomores.”
Returning letter winners are Chase Latham, Jake Jones, Josh Gonzalez and Chase Schlesselman.

NORTH KANSAS CITY
After a tough 6-14 season in the Suburban Big Seven the Hornets may experience success in the Middle Six.
“We have a solid nucleus and some promising young players,” coach Jeff Klein said. “I think we will be very competitive.”
Josh Dennett, Billy Anderson, Nick Allen and Zak Ballard are returning letter winners.

RAYTOWN SOUTH
The Cardinals look to improve upon a 6-17 record because of letter winners Miles Shelton, Tyler Fleming, Brian Morris, Aaron Smith, Marcus Douglas, Dorian Shelton, Austin McBee and Joe Samuels.
“We lost one impact player but we will be returning a lot young players with at least one year of varsity experience,” coach Steve Peck said.
“Our varsity roster could feature five seniors, five juniors, three sophomores and one freshman. I believe we will be very athletic and deep at almost every position. Our offense should have a balance of power and speed. Our pitching staff could be eight deep. These are qualities we haven’t had the benefit of for the last few years.
“Senior Miles Shelton, who begins his fourth year at the varsity level, will be the team leader.”

HOW COACHES VOTED
School                    1    2    3    4    5    TP
1. Fort Osage         3    2    0    0    0    7
2. LS West              1    2    2    0    0    11
3. Raytown              2    1    0    2    0    12
4. Belton                  0    1    3    1    0    15
5. NKC                     0    0    1    2    2    21
6. Raytown South    0    0    0    1    4    24