The next evolution for Platte County involves winning a postseason game and making a push for a playoff spot.
With possibly the best collection of talent in coach Rob Davenport’s lengthy tenure, the Pirates have every reason to believe a loaded senior class already with seven college signees can find the long awaited success. They last won a district game in 2013 and haven’t made a title game since winning Class 3 District 16 in 2006.
Platte County has won just one district game in six seasons since moving into the state’s largest classification. The Pirates were the No. 4 seed in 2015 and the No. 2 seed a year ago, losing their first game in both tournaments.
“We’ve not done well, even with our good seeds that we’ve got the last couple years. We haven’t done anything with them,” Davenport said. “(Winning a district) would be our goal this year. With the big group of seniors that we have, hopefully that will be their motivation with this being their last shot.”
Platte County went 18-8 a year ago but lost in the Class 5 District 16 semifinals after earning the No. 2 seed. The Pirates didn’t even score in a 7-0 loss to third-seeded Park Hill South.
Despite the postseason disappointment, Platte County won a second straight Suburban Conference Blue Division title with 10 players — only two seniors — earning postseason honors. Returners include Oklahoma University-bound Class 5 all-state catcher Justin Mitchell and Blue Division player of the year Colton Horn, two of 13 seniors on the roster this year.
Platte County’s first all-state player since Tyler Ryun in 2008 (Class 3), Mitchell played in 24 games and topped Platte County’s lineup in hits (37), runs (22), RBIs (21), doubles (nine), triples (three), home runs (five), batting average .420 and slugging percentage (.761). He came in second only to Horn in on-base percentage with a .474 clip.
Mitchell struck out just six times in 97 plate appearances and hit .542 with runners in scoring position.
A left-handed-hitting outfielder, Horn had a .418 batting average — second for the Pirates — but had a team-high 11 walks to push him to a team-leading .495 on-base percentage. He ranked second or third in hits (33), doubles (seven), home runs (two), runs (16) and RBIs (15).
In addition to his work at the plate, Horn also ranked second in innings pitched (39), strikeouts (35), starts (seven) and wins (five). He went 5-1 on the mound with a 1.80 ERA as the No. 2 pitching option for Platte County.
Platte County will have all three of its top pitching options back, including ace right-handed senior Jared Wilson. Committed to Cowley County (Kan.) Community College, he went 6-0 in a breakout junior season with a team-best 0.921 WHIP while constantly drawing starts against the best opponents. He threw 46.2 innings in eight starts, striking out 50 compared to 14 walks.
Grant Carver, a big right-handed senior, was Davenport’s top choice as a reliever. He threw 37 innings with five starts, compiling a 3-2 record and a 1.89 ERA with 30 strikeouts.
Wilson could also see time at shortstop for Platte County this year after the loss of all-conference senior Kodee Martin. The only other senior starter was outfielder Jerod Thomas, who ranked third in hits and batting average last season.
Drew Parmeley (designated hitter), Dillon Doll (infield/outfield), Austin Gammill (first base) and Max Hunter (third base) also return to the starting lineup. Blake Conner (shortstop), Carter Nugent (outfield) and Kobe Cummings (outfield) should help round out the roster after receiving varsity time a year ago. Hunter and Cummings are the only juniors in that group.
Gammill had eight doubles — second only to Mitchell’s nine — while Hunter ranked fourth for Platte County with 13 RBIs. Gammill and Doll were tied for fifth in RBIs with 10 apiece.
Parmeley was fourth in on-base percentage at .421, seven points ahead of Doll on the list for the Pirates.