THE DEAN’S LIST WITH DEAN HOCKNEY
July is turning into a great month for baseball in the City of Firsts. Last week, the Prospect League brought the Home Run Derby and 8th Annual All-Star Game to Kokomo Municipal Stadium. And this week, the American Legion will host its annual Indiana Baseball State Finals at the downtown stadium.
This is a special year for the Post 6 baseball team as it will play in the eight-team state finals for the third consecutive season – and this time, they have a real shot at winning the tourney and a berth in the Great Lakes National Regional. The Sixers enter the state finals with a 29-6 record, four regular season tournament titles and last weekend’s Cicero Regional championship.
Under the guidance of sixth-year skipper Don Andrews (146-70), Kokomo has had a solid run, which includes a state runners-up finish two years ago, a fifth place last season and five 20-win seasons. This year, he entered the season with high expectations – so far, so good.
“I hope I am not putting too much pressure on them,” Andrews said before the season. “There are two things about our program: they have fun and they win. Our first goal of the year is to get to the state finals. Even with an automatic bid, we think we would earn our way there. This might be the year – all of the stars are aligned.”
Of Kokomo’s six losses, three came to teams from other states, and only one was at the expense from a team potentially in the state finals field – 12-time Indiana state champion Terre Haute Post 346. Terre Haute defeated Kokomo 11-7 in the third game of the season, but TH will need to win its regional title game which took place after the Sports Journal went to press (they are the favorite).
For local baseball fans, the Legion state finals should be a can’t-miss event at one of the best stadiums in the state. The Sixers open play on Friday at 7:30 p.m., and I highly encourage you to come out to the stadium and support the local squad on their quest for a fourth state championship.
Meanwhile, last week saw some of the best collegiate baseball players come to Kokomo and play in the Prospect League All-Star Game and Home Run Derby. The Derby was exciting as 12 players combined for 158 home runs, with at least two shots bouncing over Apperson Way and into the Memorial Gymnasium South Parking Lot.
Unfortunately, the All-Star Game itself was washed out after four innings, thus making it an unofficial contest. It is also unfortunate that fans did not come out for the game. Thirty-six hours before the game, only 603 tickets had been sold. Unofficially, attendance was 847 – well below the Jackrabbits average of 1,490 per game. Hopefully, the Prospect League – which said they loved coming to Kokomo – will return to Municipal Stadium in the future so the City of Firsts can show its full support in sunny weather.
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, sports editor of the Kokomo Herald and the public address announcer for IU Kokomo and the Kokomo Jackrabbits. You can follow him on Twitter (@Sports_Journal) for the latest in local sports news and game reports.