WILDKAT WORLD SERIES CAPS PRODUCTIVE FALL WORKOUTS FOR NEW KOKOMO COACH

Kokomo's Chandler Droke makes a nice play at first base during the Wildkat World Series championship game.

Kokomo’s Chandler Droke makes a nice play at first base during the Wildkat World Series championship game.

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. - The Kokomo baseball team held its first Wildkat World Series in an effort to develop camaraderie while working on fundamentals during the off-season. New Wildkat skipper Sean Swan, Kokomo’s assistant athletic director and a varsity assistant coach last season, said the event was a success.

“A lot of college programs do this to punctuate its fall workout season. We had upwards of 28 kids work out this fall and had 18 kids participate in the World Series,” said Swan, who noted that student-athletes in fall sports could not participate in the games. “It is just a fun thing for them to experience.”

While being a fun event for the players, the Wildkat World Series allowed Swan and his staff to see players he had not watched on the field before the World Series.

“We got to see some new faces and some kids in new roles,” said Swan, who has six years of head coaching experience at Lapel and Tri-Central. “And it allowed some younger kids who don’t play a fall sport a chance to get some work in and get to know some varsity coaches. It was a win for us and a win for them.”

Swan said that with a new coach comes a new coaching system, and this event allowed the new and returning players a chance to see that new system in action. He said that during the winter, more workouts will be planned so the athletes who played fall sports will have a chance to work with the skipper and his staff.

“These types of events allow players to learn our terminology, learn our system and learn our expectations,” said Swan. “As we go into the winter season, we will get a whole new set of kids come in and work out. Some of these (fall) kids will be playing other sports. It has been a good experience this fall.”

Swan said he was able to teach fundamentals and new drills during the fall workouts and Wildkat World Series.

“It was nice to be able to introduce the drills we will be doing this spring when baseball officially starts,” he said. “We were able to expose them to those drills while also teaching about our mentality and our approach to the game.”

In the end, Team Top Gun defeated Team Dinger 2-1. Swan said Top Gun lost the opener 5-0 but battled back from the 1-0 deficit to take game two 3-1. Game three was a close 3-2 contest to determine the first Wildkat World Series champion.

“It was good. I think the kids really enjoyed it and I think it surprised them how much they got into it,” said Swan. “It was a nice way to wrap things up.”

Kokomo is scheduled to open its 2015 baseball campaign at the new Kokomo Municipal Stadium in April.

YOUNG LADY KATFISH SQUAD READY TO HIT POOL

Kokomo HS Wildkat

Keep an eye on our Lady Katfish this season.  Exciting things are happening at the pool.  Our girls are working very hard.  We are a very young team with 15 under classmen this season.  We will be led by our four returning seniors, Autumn Carroll, Katie Harbaugh, Amy Laubenstein and Ashley Clifford.  Newcomer senior, Kristen Erny, has helped to add great leadership to our team.

Our underclassmen are letting every lady know they are here to compete and want many of the open spots left by our graduating seniors from last season.  As we head into our first meet against Western I am not sure yet where everyone will fit into our lineup.  Not only are these ladies working hard, they are all very coachable and making a commitment to each other.  These are great gals and I am very lucky to get to spend this season with them.

Freshmen, Morgan Reecer, will definitely make an impact this season.  She will likely fill the distance spots in the line-up.  She is backed by Hayden Phipps, Brittany Lucas and Emily Ogle.  We will try these ladies in various spots to find where they best fit in to help garner points for the ladies.

Our sophomores will be led by returning veterans Jessica Estep, Brooke Dill, Ann Stahl, Hannah Sexton, Aditi Sood, Lucy Mavrick, and Abbie OKeefe.  Joining the sophomore veterans this season are newcomer Osha Hall who will definitely make an impact as our only diver this season.  Swimming their first varsity season as sophomores are Naomi Leuck, Emily Hafley, and Britney Achors.  Our sophomore class brings a lot of off season training and we will look to them to fill some high point earning spots in our line-up.

All of our juniors saw conference and sectional action last season so they are ready to hit the water with a splash.  We are very excited to have Briana Ebenhart, Abigail Hammel, and Micah Jackson back this season.  Two of these gals have pretty definite line-up spots.  We will look to Briana to backstroke and Abigail to butterfly this season.  Micah will get to fill freestyle spots.

Seniors, Katie Harbaugh and Autumn Carroll can swim anything on the roster.  These gals have shown great versatility and leadership for 4 years with our program.  I can count on them to swim anything and gain points for the team.  They will be supported by breaststroker, Amy Laubenstein, newcomer Kristen Erny and Ashley Clifford.

I am thankful to add freshman, Chardonnay Clark as our manager.  Chardonnay is willing to assist in any way she can and is learning the ropes in the pool quite quickly.  We also have Ms. Hicks helping us when she can.  She will be a blessing to have around.  Our diving coach expert, Amanda Huston, will lead our only diver Osha Hall this season as she prepares her 6 and 11 dive lists for competition.

Keep an eye on our ladies and watch for BIG time drops this season!  Come watch us in our opening meet against Western, Tuesday Nov 18th at 5:30pm.

Courtesy of head coach Donita Walters

IU KOKOMO WOMEN DOWN WILBERFORCE FOR HISTORIC FIRST PROGRAM VICTORY

Hope Wagner, shown in the Cougars first home game, scored 18 points in the program first win at Wilberforce University. (Photo by Thomas Birch/Kokomo Herald)

Hope Wagner, shown in the Cougars first home game, scored 18 points in the program first win at Wilberforce University. (Photo by Thomas Birch/Kokomo Herald)

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

WILBERFORCE, Ohio – With 11 freshman and one junior on the roster of its inaugural squad, most understood wins would come at a premium this year for the IU Kokomo women’s basketball team. But the inexperienced squad worked hard in the preseason, and the work paid off as the Cougars earned the program’s first-ever victory in just its second game. In a tough road contest, the Cougars downed Wilberforce University with a come-from-behind 68-63 victory.

“This is huge for our kids, especially coming on the road,” said IU Kokomo coach Whitney Farris, who also notched her first win as a college head coach. “This isn’t the ideal situation for an NAIA start – getting up early, a three hour road trip and then getting out of the van to play. But it was perfect for us, we just played our game. I am extremely proud of them.”

Trailing 33-27 at halftime, the young Cougars struggled in the second half, going more than seven minutes without a field goal. The Bulldogs were not shooting much better, but did increase its lead to as many as 16 before IUK got hot – red hot. Junior transfer Hope Wagner hit three consecutive 3-pointers to ignite the rally.

“I figured I had to do something,” said Wagner, who averaged nearly 20 points per game at Ancilla last season. “I finally came out of my drought. It is my role to hit my shots and I finally did. This win is awesome; it feels great.”

Trailing 63-61, Tipton’s Lela Crawford took a baseline pass and drained a triple from the deep corner with 58 seconds left to give IU Kokomo the lead. Wilberforce tied the game at 63, but Wagner answered with her fifth 3-pointer of the second half with 7.8 seconds left. Crawford sealed the win with a pair of free throws in the final seconds.

“Coach told me that I had to play as hard as I could for the last minute and a half,” said Crawford of her late game heroics. “I just wanted to make her proud. I had confidence I would hit that shot.”

Farris concurred, saying she knew it was going in, “because I was standing right behind her when she shot it. I knew it was good.”

The Cougars lost its opening game 51-40 earlier in the week, but came back after trailing by as many as 20. Farris said that game helped the squad when it found itself down to Wilberforce.

“We were right in both games at half time, but wobbled a little in the second half,” said Farris. “I think having that experience in the first game, and knowing we came back, helped us today. And today we finished it. This win will go a long way for us.”

The Cougars scorched the nets with 13 3-point baskets, including eight in the second half. After 24 turnovers in its opener, the Cougars controlled the ball with only 12 against Wilberforce.

“We needed to focus on rebounding and taking care of the ball,” said Farris. “We had 15 turnovers in the first half of the first game, and we had 12 tonight. I am proud of the way the stepped up.”

Wagner led the Cougars with 18 points while Crawford closed with 17. Nevada Jones scored 11 while running the point. Dejianna Butler and Deja Felder each dropped in six points. Kokomo graduate Alanis Jones and Whitney Williamson had four points and Tabitha Dewitt rounded out the scoring with two points.

Jasmine Johnson led Wilberforce with 20 points. Kendra Moss had 19 and Chanel Davis dropped in 12.

IU Kokomo (1-1) returns to action on Nov. 18 when they travel to Evansville to battle Oakland City University. The return to the city of Wilberforce on Nov. 20 to play Central State University. The Cougars return home on Nov. 24 to face Andrews University at 5 p.m.