Archive for June 12, 2015

KOKOMO JACKRABBITS OFFER APOLOGY TO LEWIS CASS BASEBALL, KOKOMO CITY ADMINISTRATORS

Kokomo Jackrabbits 1

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. – Sometimes, the best of intentions do not work out; especially with a new organization.

On Wednesday night, the Kokomo Jackrabbits initially allowed the Final Four-bound Lewis Cass Kings to practice on the synthetic turf at Kokomo Municipal Stadium. But approximately two hours into the practice, team officials had to tell the Kings there was a misunderstanding and they needed to end practice – an error Jackrabbits ownership MKE Sports and Entertainment admitted in a statement.

“The scheduling conflict that occurred Wednesday with the Lewis Cass High School Baseball team is the sole responsibility of the Kokomo Jackrabbits,” the MKE Sports stated. “The Kokomo Jackrabbits are responsible for scheduling all events at the Kokomo Municipal Stadium in adherence to our lease and construction requirements, and that did not occur this week.

“Had the policies put in place been followed, Lewis Cass would have been denied access to the field this season due to ongoing construction needs, as other schools in the area have been denied in recent weeks.”

According to MKE and city officials, construction is ongoing during the day. When Lewis Cass took the field at approximately 3 p.m., construction crews had to halt work. And no Howard County teams have practiced or played as the construction is more than two months behind schedule.

“The stadium continues to require an aggressive construction schedule after losing five weeks due to certain state and local politics,” MKE Sports stated. “As a result, our ability to schedule events other than Jackrabbits home games is extremely limited this season.”

MKE Sports offered an apology to the No. 4-ranked Kings (25-3) baseball team, which is scheduled to play in the Class 2A Kokomo North Semi-State on Saturday against No. 3 Lafayette Central Catholic (29-5). The game will be played at approximately 3 p.m. at cfd Investments Stadium in Highland Park.

“We had an internal misunderstanding of these construction schedules and would like to express our most sincere apologies to the Lewis Cass Baseball program for our error,” MKE Sports continued. “MKE Sports and Entertainment, along with the entire Kokomo Jackrabbits organization, wishes them the best of luck in IHSAA Class 2A Baseball Semi-State this Saturday.”

Another situation arose when social media posts indicated that city officials, in particular Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight, ordered the team off the field. Both city and Jackrabbits officials deny that claim. In fact, Mayor Goodnight was not even at the stadium when the incident occurred. That resulted in another apology from MKE Sports.

“We apologize to City of Kokomo officials for creating any Public Relations concerns that have resulted from this; specifically, any notion that city hall or City of Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight is to blame,” they stated. “That is certainly not the case.”

The Jackrabbits have a three-game home stand this weekend at Municipal Stadium – Friday with the Springfield Sliders and Saturday-Sunday against the Quincy Gems.

DEAN’S LIST: IHSAA HITS A HOME RUN WITH UNIFIED TRACK PROGRAM, KATS FINISH AS STATE RUNNERS-UP

Kokomo Wildkats - 2015 IHSAA Unified Track state runners-up

Kokomo Wildkats – 2015 IHSAA Unified Track state runners-up

THE DEAN’S LIST WITH DEAN HOCKNEY

Last year, the IHSAA launched its 21st varsity sport – Unified Track. And all indications are it has been a success and something which the IHSAA should be proud – pairing student-athletes with and without intellectual disabilities together on an athletic field.

In 2015 – the second year of the sport in the Hoosier state – the state tournament saw an expanded field as more schools introduced Unified Track to their athletic programs. Five sectional sites from across the state sent their top two teams to Bloomington for last weekend’s competition. In 2014, only two sites were needed to host the number of schools that participated. The Kokomo, Noblesville, Mt. Vernon, Terre Haute South and Michigan City teams all won sectional championships in this year’s tournament.

This year, the Kokomo Wildkats Unified Track team won the programs first sectional title in its inaugural year of competition. Then, last Saturday, they brought home Kokomo’s 24th IHSAA state runners-up trophy (see page 3).

Unified Sports enables persons with and without intellectual disabilities to participate on the same team for sports training and competition. The “Champions Together” partnership between the Indiana High School Athletic Association and Special Olympics Indiana was launched in 2012. While the IHSAA provides the framework for competition, Special Olympics Indiana provides technical support and financial grants to a number of schools who start new Unified Track programs.

Michael Furnish, Special Olympics Indiana president and CEO, applauds the IHSAA for its leadership.

“The vote by the IHSAA to include students with special needs in interscholastic sports competition is historic,” he says. “Decades after people eligible for Special Olympics were brought into public education, they now have new opportunities to bring their competitive spirit and positive attitude to contribute through sports to their schools.”

Unified Sports is not something new in the United States. In 1992, Connecticut became the first state in which an official partnership was formed between Special Olympics and a state high school athletic association. Connecticut has been conducting organized Unified Sports competitions for high school students since that time and now administers competitions in five Unified Sports (soccer, basketball, volleyball, bowling and track) while more than 60 percent of Connecticut High Schools compete in at least one Unified Sport.

Following the lead of Connecticut, Maryland, Arizona, Rhode Island and New Hampshire have since formed similar programs. Indiana officially joined the list last year and considers Unified Track as an official state championship event.

IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox said at the time of the initial announcement that the inclusion of Unified Track is a historic moment for the association.

“The approval by the IHSAA for Unified Track was a beginning step in the evolving culture of inclusion between the IHSAA and our partners at Special Olympics Indiana,” said Cox. “It is a humbling opportunity to collaborate with one of our state’s most important organizations in the creation of an event that will certainly stand as a historic benchmark for both groups. It seems fitting and proper that the first inclusive sport recognized by the IHSAA is track and field, which was also the first sport recognized by the IHSAA in 1903.”

So, hats off to the IHSAA for bringing this important program to the state. And hats off to Kokomo Athletic Director Jason Snyder for once again leading the way and ensuring the Kats were at the forefront of this new sport.

Until next time, remember to keep the man and ship in sports – and I’ll see you at the game.

Dean Hockney is the publisher of the Sports Journal of Central Indiana and sports editor of the Kokomo Herald. You can follow him on Twitter (@Sports_Journal) for the latest in local sports news and game reports.

 

TITLE RUN: KOKOMO POST 6 OPENS 2015 BASEBALL CAMPAIGN WITH A PAIR OF VICTORIES

Post 6 first base coach Matt Turner congratulates Caleb Maddox after he reached first base during Kokomo's season opening 8-6 win over Crawfordsville.

Post 6 first base coach Matt Turner congratulates Caleb Maddox after he reached first base during Kokomo’s season opening 8-6 win over Crawfordsville.

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. – One year ago, the Kokomo American Legion Post 6 baseball team opened the season with one goal in mind – win a state championship. While the 2014 team fell one game short – finishing as the state runners-up for the programs best finish since a state title in 1982 – the 2015 version enters the season with the same lofty goals.

On opening day at cfd Investments Stadium, the Sixers jumped to a quick start with a pair of wins over Crawfordsville Post 72 and Brazil Post 2. In game one, Austin Weaver got off to a shaky start, hitting two batters and walking a third to load the bases. But he found his groove with a strikeout before the defense helped get Post 6 out of a jam with a double play.

Kokomo struck first on the scoreboard to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of one. Isaac Turner – a key component from last year’s team who spent the spring honing his skills on the collegiate circuit with Anderson University – ripped a base hit to score Caleb Maddox, who had singled. That lead lasted only until the top of the second as the Sixers had a passed ball and two errors – all of which contributed to a three-run inning.

Post 6 got a run back on Turner’s second RBI single of the afternoon, scoring Tristan Kivett. The teams battled with Crawfordsville leading 6-2 as the Sixers came to bat in the bottom of the sixth; and Kokomo’s bats came alive. S.A. Dunn – another returning leader from last year – ripped a two-run triple to lead a hit parade for the Sixers. Josh Jansen, Tim Blankenberger and Quinlan Armstrong also tallied sixth-inning RBIs to give Kokomo an 8-6 lead.

Ian Parslow entered in the top of the seventh and shut down Crawfordsville in order to preserve Kokomo’s come-from-behind win earning a save in the process. Weaver picked up the win, pitching the first six innings and recording five strikeouts and only three earned runs.

Against Brazil, Colby Malson earned the win, pitching the first 5 1/3 innings. Austin Pyle finished the game to secure the win – he also had an RBI single and an unassisted double play in a solid all-around outing. On offense, Turner, Blankenberger, Parslow and Nathan Pflugh (2) had RBI’s to pace the Sixers to its second win of the season.