Their field is called the "purple field" and lacks grass on the infield. The fences aren't far from home plate, just 300 feet all the way around. An errant throw past third ends up in the cattle pens at the Haskell County Fairgrounds. Although it's not exactly a field of dreams, the Sublette Larks performance this year has been a dream come true for the 23 players in the program. After beating established programs in regionals with a 2-1 win over Spearville and a 6-3 win over Minneola, the Larks are state bound for the first time in the six years of the program. Junior shortstop and pitcher Travis Leverett says that last out against Minneola brought a rush of adrenaline. "My heart was racing all the way until Brodie caught it," Leverett said of the last out. "It was an amazing feeling that we finally get to go to state for the first time."
St. George, Utah native Ryan Hafen is in his second year as head coach. He has 23 players out for the sport at the 2A school. Last year the Larks were 11-11. This year with seven seniors and two juniors the Larks are 16-5. Hafen says the Larks are enjoying the moment. "They've really enjoyed it. We've talked all along about enjoying the moment we are in and those kids are really taking that to heart. The community has really rallied around us."
There was a barbecue for the team Tuesday night.
Senior first baseman Spur Robinett has probably Sublette's most important hit of the season. Robinett slugged a three run homer against Minneola to erase a 2-1 deficit. Robinett says this is a complete team. "We're pretty balanced in every position. We're pretty good at everything. I think this is the best team we've ever had at Sublette."
Senior outfielder Brodie Blackburn led the team with six homers. He says chemistry matters most. "I would say our friendship," Blackburn said when asked what was the strength of the team. "We're all really close. We like to hang out. It's great."
Brandon Stokes is the best all around player on the team. The second team all state player is Sublette's best pitcher and hitter. He pitched eight innings in the Minneola win. Stokes says Sublette has a chance in Emporia. "I think we can do some damage. It's a chance to show everybody how hard we work and show everybody the Sublete program."
The Larks play 15-6 Ellis at 1:30 Friday in Emporia for the 2A State Tournament. Hafen's interview will air Wednesday and the player interviews will air Thursday between 7:37 and 9 a.m. on Talkradio 1270 and kscbnews.net.