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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Home stretch

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  • Nathan Briar has enjoyed his time playing for the Newton Rebels, and he plans on doing what he can to extend that time as much as possible.
    The team hosts Hutchinson tonight, and then will host an NBC Mid Kansas Regional July 19-23, so he will have a few games left in Newton. The ultimate goal is to reach the NBC World Series, and the team has a legitimate chance to do that.
    The Rebels are in second place in the Walter Johnson League, and could qualify that way. They could also get to the World Series by winning the tournament here in Newton.
    League officials are still looking for volunteers to help with the tournament that features eight area teams. For information on volunteering, check out their website at www.newtonrebels.com.
    Briar will be a senior at Fort Hays State next year, and that will likely be his last year of organized baseball. But this year will be his last as a Newton Rebel. He also played at Newton High School, so not calling the fields of Newton home anymore will be a big change.
    "It is kind of bittersweet. It's been a fun four years playing with them," he said of his time with the Rebels.
    The team is made up of college players. Most are from Kansas but there are players from across the nation. There are three others from Newton, and Briar played with most of them through high school.
    In college he played against former Railer teammate shortstop Evan Thomas (Pittsburg State). Other former Newton High School players are pitcher Storm Marlar (Tabor College), outfielder Matt Moreland (Friends University) and pitcher Alec (Hesston College).
    He has played baseball with Thomas, and against him, and looks forward to at least one more match up next year when both will be seniors at the college level.
    This season Briar is a relief pitcher. He relies on his changeup and slider, and throws a good fastball in the mid 80 range.
    The Rebels are playing well now, Briar said. A couple of recent wins got the team into second place and that helped their chances. The tournament is also another chance.
    "Pitchers need to keep the ball down and throw strikes. We need key hitting. I have confidence in our pitchers and other players," he said.
    Briar said he likes coming as a relief pitcher, even though that often gets a player inserted into a pressure situation.
    "You have more of an advantage against batters as a relief pitcher. They don't see you as often. When you start they get to face you three or four times and start to catch on to your pitches," he said.

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