If this weekend’s results are any indication, the future of baseball in the Wichita area couldn’t be much brighter.
Wichita and Kansas City’s best for the classes of 2020 and 2021 met at Eck Stadium on July 17-19. Over 30 players were selected for each team. Derby had five players selected for the first weekend of games, while seven more will participate on Aug. 3 and Aug. 5 in Parkville, Mo., and Goddard, Kan.
“It was really good for the [local] community,” 2020 head coach Tonto Baxley said. “We had about 500 fans show up Friday and Saturday and probably about 200 on Sunday. The greatest thing about it was that it brought a level of competition that these boys haven’t played with in awhile.”
Each team played a three-game series and the 2020 Wichita-area roster finished 1-2. Former Derby pitcher Grant Adler started Saturday night’s game. He’ll now return to the Rose Hill Sluggers for the remainder of the summer before moving to Cowley College in the fall.
“I’ve know Grant for a long time,” Baxley said. “… His competitiveness and always wanting the ball in any spot in any big game – there’s not many like him. He’ll get frustrated if I tell him he’s not pitching. He wants the ball and he believes he’s the best and that says a lot about who he is. He has great character, he’s a great person and he’s a pleasure to coach.”
In the final game for the 2021 class, two Derby soon-to-be seniors played a critical role in wrapping up the series win. Reid Liston finished with two hits and three RBIs, while Grant Ash picked up the win on the mound.
Baxley, who will be the recruiting coordinator for the new 316 Elite/Wichita Sluggers Academy merger, said Derby fans should be thrilled with what this class of players will bring back to Panther Field next spring.
“For [Derby coach] Todd Olmstead to have that much talent in one place, it’s unfair,” Baxley said. “It’s unfair for the state next year. I’ve been around those  players for the last four or five years and they’re outstanding players and contributors in the community.”
The 2022 and 2023 games are set for the first weekend in August. The games in the Wichita area will be played at the new Genesis Sports Complex in Goddard.
Baxley also indicated that they have already begun conversation for next summer’s series with hopes that it could grow even bigger.
DERBY PARTICIPANTS STILL TO PLAY
Karson Klima (2022)
Luke Westerman (2022)
Mercer Thatcher (2022)
Braden Horn (2023)
Mitchell Johnson (2023)
Markkus Jones (2023)
Ryan Pierce (2023)