JACKRABBITS FIRE GREG VAN HORN AFTER THIRD EJECTION, MATT HOWARD NAMED INTERIM MANAGER

Greg Van Horn was terminated as manager of the Kokomo Jackrabbits. Here, he is shown arguing with an umpire earlier in the season.

Greg Van Horn was terminated as manager of the Kokomo Jackrabbits. Here, he is shown arguing with an umpire earlier in the season.

KOKOMO, Ind. – Just one day into the second half of the season, Kokomo Jackrabbits manager Greg Van Horn was terminated. The fiery skipper had been ejected for the third time in the first 30 games the night before.

“Field manager Greg Van Horn has officially been relieved of his duties with the team effective immediately,” the team said in a statement. “Kokomo will be managed by interim Field Manager Matt Howard for the remainder of the season.”

Howard is the first base coach for the Jackrabbits.

On July 1 at Kokomo Municipal Stadium, Van Horn was ejected in the fourth inning for apparently questioning a check swing call by home plate umpire James Norrick. The umpire walked towards the Kokomo dugout, ejecting the Jackrabbits manager. When he realized what happened, Van Horn stormed out of the dugout and charged the umpire.

Following a heated discussion, Van Horn – who also serves as an assistant coach at Princeton University – returned to the dugout and began throwing things onto the Municipal Stadium turf. His helmet, bats, baseballs and other assorted items found their way onto the field in front of 715 fans. Van Horn then returned to the field yelling, picked up a baseball and threw it across the field, near and possibly over Quincy Gems players, where it landed in the opposing bullpen – feet from paid spectators.

He then left the field and watched the rest of the game in the press box, serving as a color commentator on the Jackrabbits internet broadcast. Van Horn was previously ejected from two other games this season, resulting in a one game suspension from the Prospect League.

Van Horn was no stranger to the Prospect League. He played with the Chillicothe Paints, winning the league title in 2010. He also served as an assistant coach last season.

Howard, a 25 year-old native of Philadelphia who has a birthday on July 4, played college baseball at Slippery Rock University. He was named an honorable mention All-American while hitting .402 at SRU in 2011, becoming just the 28th Rock baseball player to hit over .400 in a single-season.

He also played summer-collegiate baseball with the Frontier League’s Southern Illinois Miners last season and the Traverse City Beach Bums in 2012-2013. The outfielder hit .252 in the league with 103 hits, 20 doubles, five home runs and 34 RBIs.

The Jackrabbits are 15-15 at the mid-way point of the season and return to the award-winning Municipal Stadium on July 10 following road trips to Springfield and Terre Haute. The break also includes the All-Star game, which is in Richmond this season.

KOKOMO MUNICIPAL STADIUM VOTED BEST SUMMER-COLLEGIATE BALLPARK

JR National Anthem

KOKOMO, Ind. – Kokomo Municipal Stadium, home of the Prospect League’s Kokomo Jackrabbits, was named best summer-collegiate ballpark after five rounds of voting at Ballparkdigest.com. The Best of the Ballparks competition saw more than 70,000 people cast ballots in the online contest.

“This shows the level of enthusiasm our fans have for Kokomo Municipal Stadium and The Jackrabbits,” said Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight. “The attention to detail for the fan experience helps set us apart. Baseball is back in Kokomo for good. Our fans and our team deserve all the credit for making this happen.”

“Kokomo Municipal Stadium bucks the trend in summer collegiate ball of using older ballparks in the sport — a new ballpark is unusual, to say the least,” said Ballpark Digest publisher Kevin Reichard. “But with a broad base of community support, like that shown by business and government leaders promoting this contest, it’s clear Kokomo Municipal Stadium is already a success.”

Other Indiana ballparks fared well in the Best of the Ballparks competition. Victory Field, home of the Triple A Indianapolis Indians finished in the Final Four. In Low Single A, Four Winds Field, home field of the South Bend Cubs, also was a Final Four finisher. Parkview Field, home of the Low Single A Fort Wayne Tincaps, finished in the top eight.

Ballparkdigest.com is the web’s leading guide to ballparks, the culture of baseball and the business of baseball. Read more about the Best of the Ballparks competition and Kokomo’s win at www.ballparkdigest.com

KOKOMO WILDKAT RECORD-BREAKER PARIS McCULLUM NAMED AN INDIANA ALL-STAR IN SOFTBALL

Paris McCullum in action courtesy of Tom Birch/Kokomo Herald

Paris McCullum in action courtesy of Tom Birch/Kokomo Herald

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. – Paris McCullum entered her senior season of softball at Kokomo High School with high hopes and expectations. And despite a loss in the Sweet Sixteen round of the IHSAA tournament, when the Wildkat looks back she will know she was part of a magical season. For her efforts, she was not only crowned as the sixth Indiana North All-Star in Kokomo history, but she will continue her softball career at Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee.

“I had always seen myself at a big college,” said McCullum of her college choice. “Once I got there, I got a different feeling. I love the environment and I love what they’re about. I love to help others in my community. It’s not always about me. I like to be there for others. They’re not just about education; they’re about servanthood.”

The Indiana All-Star title is by no accident. McCullum set Lady Wildkat records for stolen bases in a season and walks in a season – both 25. She batted a lofty .482 with a slugging percentage of .783. She also knocked in 32 runs with 11 doubles, four triples and two home runs while scoring 38 times. Many of those numbers led the county stat sheet. In addition, the team set a school record with 24 victories.

“My favorite part of the game is running and stealing bases,” said the record-setting athlete. “I love sliding in head first. I think my favorite part is the hype of the game.”

Kokomo head coach Mike Susong said McCullum deserves whatever accolades head her way.

“She has been exciting this year,” said Susong, the North Central Conference Coach of the Year. “She has been fantastic to watch. I will put up her stats with anyone in the state. We really challenged her at the end of last year, and boy did she really respond. She deserves the credit. I feel she is an Indiana All-Star.”

McCullum joins Nicole Croddy (1992), Amanda Grills (1999), Kailyn Dubois (2007), Elizabeth Wagner (2009), and Carly Painter (2010) as Indiana All-Star softball players from Kokomo. But of that group of elite athletes, only McCullum led her squad to NCC and/or sectional titles. Earlier this spring, the Lady Kats won the school’s first NCC softball title, and the squad followed that with its first sectional title since 2006 (second overall).

“She has shown on the field that she deserved that chance,” said Susong on the Indiana All-Star selection process. “Paris is not only a good player but she has an infectious personality. People flock towards her and she is a good leader with a great work ethic. She is someone we are really going to miss next year.”

She said she worked hard on becoming the player she is today. And she now wants to help other young players get better.

“I was always a decent softball player, but I knew I wanted to take it to the next level. When I went to camps, I always saw girls going the extra mile,” said McCullum, a future athletic trainer. “I want to be an influence to the girls in the leagues around here.”

But McCullum is more than an athlete – she loves to give back to her community. This summer, she will join a group that will tour Italy and play softball against local teams through the ACIS America’s Team program.

“When I was visiting Wisconsin Lutheran, they were packing up food bags for the Rescue Mission,” McCullum recalled of her visit to the NCAA Division III institution. “When I saw that I knew I loved that. They are not selfish, and that is what I believe in too. That is why I am looking forward to this summer and Italy. I am really blessed.”

Volunteering is part of her culture – especially at the Family Worship Center in Kokomo and local youth sports leagues.

“I try to help out as much as I can there,” she said. “I want to help with daycare and Vacation Bible School in the summer. And of course I help with softball camps and at the Kokomo Girls Softball League. And I do travel ball all summer with the Howard County Thunder.”

Paris McCullum graduated from Kokomo High School as one of the best softball players in school history. The sky is the limit on what the next four years of NCAA softball will bring to the record-breaking player.