Prep Baseball Report

2024 KSHSAA State Tournament Preview: 5A

By: Eliott Wilk
Central Region Operations Director

Regionals week is over and the 2024 KSHSAA State Tournaments are set to start Thursday, May 22nd, for all classes. 

Over the next few days, our staff will be previewing the tournaments for 5A and 6A. Below you’ll learn more about the 5A tournament at Eck Stadium in Wichita. Featuring a field full of teams fresh off of regional upsets, this year's state title is truly anyone's to take.

Bishop Carroll (22-5) is fresh off their third state title in school history last year and the Golden Eagles are looking to repeat again in 2024. The Golden Eagles have consistently been one of the top teams in the state all year long and head into the state tournament riding an eight game winning streak after taking down Arkansas City and Andover in regional action. Bishop Carroll will rely heavily on a talented pitching staff that is able to shut down offenses, anchored by Ethan Cox (2025), Hayes Allen (2025), Braxton Martin (2025) and Shane Holman (2024; Butler CC). At the plate, Bishop Carroll will look to Van Haneberg (2024; Butler CC), Cal Purvis (2026), Isaac Lager (2025), and Carter Clupny (2025) to drive run production and make a push for a state title again this year.

Pittsburg (19-6) enters the state tournament riding a string of seven straight wins to grab the No. 2 overall seed in the tournament. An experienced, senior ladden group on both sides of the ball, the Purple Dragons will lean on a pair of quality arms in seniors Beau Pasteur (2024) and Webb Fern (2024) to lead the pitching staff through a tournament filled with powerful bats. On the offensive side of things, Carsen Nickelson (2025), Jayden Brown (2026), Tucker Atkins (2024), and Fern spearhead a lineup that has put up double digit runs in five of its last six games entering the tournament. Don't be surprised if this experienced Pittsburg squad makes a push for the title.

+ Certainly one of the favorites entering Thursday, St. Thomas Aquinas (20-7) is no stranger when it comes to success at the state tournament, looking for their third title in the last ten years. Sporting a loaded lineup packed with powerful bats from top to bottom, the Saints will look to carry momentum from big late season wins over Shawnee Mission East, Lawrence Free State, and Blue Valley Southwest, into Thursday. Blake O'Brien (2024; Kansas), Cru Huenfeld (2025), Lincoln Boyle (2026; Arkansas), Brady Stewart (2026), and Westin Boyle (2025; Purdue) are all having strong seasons for the Saints and pose a threat to opposing pitchers at any given moment while O'Brien, Lincoln Boyle, and Nic Sabers (2026) have been nails on the mound this spring, shutting down some of the strongest offenses across the state when it mattered most. Look for the Saints to make some noise in Wichita and certainly don't be surprised if they come home with the trophy. 

Spring Hill (17-8) is making their second straight appearance in Wichita thanks to dominant 11-1 and 10-0 wins over Piper and Turner in regional action last week. The Bronco offense is spearheaded by power bats Keaton Neal (2026) and Holden Lough (2024; MidAmerica Nazarene) who both sport averages north of .430 on the year while racking up 10+ doubles, 3+ triples, and 3+ home runs each. This Spring Hill offense is certainly no stranger to puting up some runs, but if the Broncos are going to make a deep run, their pitching staff lead by Caiden Stewart (2024), Lough, and Neal is going to have to step up.

+ After knocking off No. 1 seeded De Soto in their regional last week, Shawnee Heights (13-11) is back in Wichita once again. Led offensively by Deacon Pomeroy (2025; Oklahoma State) and Cayden Lindsay (2026), the Thunderbirds are a scrappy bunch that knows how to string hits together and will scratch and claw runs across by whatever means possible. Where Shawnee Heights really shines is defensively and on the mound, holding teams to just 3.38 average runs allowed on the year thanks to reliable arms in Pomeroy and Ben Schaub (2024) who will look to continue their strong seasons on the bump. This Shawnee Heights team does not get rattled easily and it would not be surprising to see the Thunderbirds send some top seeds packing on their way through the tournament. 

+ Winning when it matters most is what is important and that is exactly what Eisenhower (14-12) did on the way through regionals, upsetting not one but to "Power 25" ranked teams in Seaman and Kapaun Mt. Carmel on their path to state. Coen Douglass (2024), Cole Adams (2026), and Carter Pabst (2025) have been the go to arms for the Tigers and will be asked to step up if Eisenhower wants to make a deep run at the title. Offensively, AdamsPabst, and Jared Cobb (2025) have all been instrumental bats for the Tigers and will look to carry their success from last week over into Thursday.

+ Salina South (15-13) is another team that is gaining momentum at the right time, defeating Emporia and upsetting Great Bend in extra innings on their way to a state tournament birth. Kaden Budke (2024; Cloud County CC) has done it all for the Cougars, leading the team in hitting with a .462 average as well as on the mound with 42.1 innings pitched on the year. Other key pieces on the mound for the Cougars will be a pair of upperclassmen in Brady Howard (2024) and Jace Humphrey (2025). The Salina South offense has shown signs of life throughout the year, leading the team to big wins against Hays, Junction City, and Great Bend earlier in the year. Featuring a talented top of the lineup in Budke and Howard all hitting over .400 on the season with Kolton Herbel (2026) not far behind, the Cougars can cause some trouble for the top seeds.  

+ It had been a tough year for Salina Central (9-18), earning the No. 16 seed in regionals and staring down a date with No. 1 seeded Maize South in the first round. That didn't stop the Mustangs from doing what many thought was unthinkable, upsetting the top seeded Mavericks and downing Hutchinson in the regional championship to punch their ticket to Wichita. Led offensively by Gunnar Gross (2024) who is hitting .418 on the year and on the mound by Brody Farthing (2024) who sports a 2.67 ERA this spring, the Mustangs will look to continue their cinderella run down in Wichita.


Host: Eck Stadium, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS

May 23, 2024

11:00 AM: (1) Bishop Carroll vs. (8) Salina Central

1:15 PM: (4) Spring Hill vs. (5) Shawnee Heights

3:30 PM: (2) Pittsburg vs. (7) Salina South

5:45 PM: (3) St. Thomas Aquinas vs. (6) Eisenhower