Last year, the Bee Jays had little time to prepare for the Jayhawk League season opener, and by little I mean none at all.
The first game of the year was against the El Dorado Broncos.The Broncos went on to win the Jayhawk League and finish four and a half games ahead of the Bee Jays who ended the season tied with Hays.
History has shown that the Bee Jays finish the season stronger than they start.
With that in mind, this year;s schedule is much more favorable.
Liberal will have four games under their belt before facing a Jayhawk League opponent, an advantage El Dorado had last year when they came to Brent Gould Field to face Liberal in the Bee Jay opener.
The Bee Jays also have a friendly confines advantage early on as well. Liberal will play the first 10 games of the season at home before traveling to Haysville to face the newest member of the Jayhawk League, the Heat. The new team is a transplant of the successful Arizona team, the Havasu Heat.
For the season, the Bee Jays will play 25 home games while hitting the road for 16 prior to any tournament play at the conclusion of the season.
In the past two years under Major League manager Mike Hargrove, the Bee Jays had slow starts but strong finishes. Two years ago, the Bee Jays finished fourth in the nation, and last year Liberal claimed third.
Hargrove helped re-establish the prominence of the Bee Jay program over the past two seasons while playing in arguably the toughest conference in the nation.
Last year is a prime example. Four teams from the Jayhawk League qualified for the NBC World Series. El Dorado won the title, Liberal came in third, Hays finished fourth, and Derby was ninth.
Liberal and El Dorado faced off in the final of the winners bracket, and the Bee Jays came up one run short, 4-3.
Had the Bee Jays faced an opponent prior to hosting El Dorado to start the season, however, that final match-up between the Broncos and Bee Jays might have been different.
With this year’s schedule and riding a two-year wave of top four national finishes, the Bee Jays have the dominoes lined up for success in 2010.
Hargrove assistant John Martin will take the reins this season, and with players wanting to be a part of a tradition-rich program that has provided a path to Major League Baseball for more than 50 years, this might be the year to win it all.
Every game is free, so come out to Brent Gould Field Friday for Opening Day ceremonies. Sit under the canopy, down the base lines in the bleachers, or bring you own chair. But don’t miss it.