2016 Team Preview: Liberty Blue Jays



Shon Plack
Missouri Scouting Director

As  we  prepare  for  the  upcoming  2016  high  school  season,  we  will  be  taking  a
preseason glimpse at programs from around the state.

Team: Liberty HS
Nickname: Blue Jays
Class: 5A
Conference: Suburban Red (Mid 6)
Head Coach: Kirk Bragg
Years as head coach at school: 13
Twitter Handle: @Jays_Baseball
2015 Overall Record: 28-5
2015 Conference Finish: 9-1 (1st Place)
2015 Post­ Season Finish: Lost in District Finals
2016 MHSBCA Pre Season Rank: #10
Team Website: https://athletics-lps-ca.schoolloop.com/jaysbaseball

 
Players with 2015 Post Season Honors

Joe  Kinder, SS,  2016,  1st  Team  All­-State, (Missouri Southern)
Craig Straws,
CF, 2016, Honorable Mention All­-State
Brandon  Green
UTIL,  2016,  Honorable  Mention  All­-State,  Honorable  Mention (Iowa Western CC)
Justin Vochatzer,
2B, 2016, 1st Team All­-Conference
Aaron Easley,
C, 2016, 1st Team All­-Conference (Northwest Missouri)
Matt Gastner,
3B, 2016, 2nd Team All­-Conference (Northwest Missouri)
Ben Kunkel,
UTIL, 2016, 2nd Team All­-Conference

Players to Watch
Tyler Miller
, SS/3B, 2017
Thomas Connor, LHP, 2016 (Fort Scott)
Trent Green, RHP, 2016
Colton Van Vleck, LHP, 2016

Number of Returning Starters/Pitchers: 3
Number of Returning Starters/Position Players: 5

Season Outlook
The Blue Jays will enter the season as back-to-back conference champs.  They have earned that title in four of the last five seasons, and have three district championships in the last five years, including one Final Four appearance during that span. The Blue Jays could be considered as one of the top baseball programs in Class 5, and the 2016 season looks bright as well. The Blue Jays return five starters in the field and three on the mound from their 28-5 team from 2015. Four returning players earned All-Conference awards while, three earning All-State honors. Senior SS Joe Kinder and senior OF Craig Straws will lead the way.  The two have years of varsity experience under their belt and are ready to lead the Jays this spring.  Senior UTL Brandon Green is the X-Factor that any team would like to have.  His versatility to play multiple positions gives the Jays added depth to an already talented line up.  Senior C Aaron Easley is among the top catchers in his class, and two talented seniors will round out the infield in 2B Justin Vochatzer and 3B Matt Gastner.  UTL Ben Kunkel also earned All-Conference honors last season and can play several positions.  On the mound, the Jays will have talent and experience as well.  Lefties Connor Thomas and Colten VanVleck will be a nice one-two at the top of the rotation, with RHP Trent Green also seeing significant innings. Liberty has a loaded senior class that have a history of winning as underclassmen.  In 2016, things should be much of the same for Liberty.  They open the season as the #10 team in Class 5 and look to compete for a spot in the Final Four in June. 

CLICK HERE, for a complete list of 2016 Team Previews
CLICK HERE, for the MHSBCA Rankings

 

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