The race for the Kaysinger Conference baseball championship comes down to three teams, according to an informal poll of the league’s coaches.
With the conference tournament starting April 26, the Democrat e-mailed a questionnaire to eight of the league’s 10 coaches — contact information for the other two coaches was unavailable — asking them to rank the top five teams, top five hitters and top five pitchers in the conference. Coaches could not rank their own team or players in their responses.
Five coaches returned their ballots.
The results: The Tipton Cardinals, Sacred Heart Gremlins and Northwest Mustangs were ranked 1-2-3.
The Cardinals (3-0) received three first-place votes and had 23 points. (Five points for first place, four for second and so on.) Sacred Heart (4-0) received the other two first-place votes and finished with 18 points. Northwest was third with 13.
Four other teams received votes. Cole Camp (2-3) and Green Ridge (3-1) tied for fourth with six points each, Windsor (2-4) had five and Smithton (4-2) 4.
Several Tipton players were mentioned among the league’s best players.
Luke Mercer was not only named one of the top five hitters but was one of the top pitchers. Teammate Ryan Wood was ranked as a top-five hitter, and Grant Huhmann was a top-five pitcher. Seth Hirst received votes as a hitter and a pitcher.
Only one Sacred Heart player finished among the top five hitters: catcher Mason Kelchner, and no Gremlins were ranked among the top five pitchers. Garrett Strange received a vote as one of the top hitters, and Kelchner was mentioned as a top pitcher.
Northwest’s Cortlen Austin was among the top five hitters, and teammate Trey Green was one of the top five pitchers.
Other players who received votes as the league’s top hitters are Dane Apsher, of Smithton, Connor Balke, of Cole Camp; Mason Briggs, of Windsor; and Zac Callahan, of Green Ridge.
Other pitchers recognized were Balke; Kelchner; Corbin Mertgen, of Lincoln; Tanner Oelrichs, of Cole Camp; and Trenton Johnson, of Windsor.