BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. – After starting the season 0-3 in its new Northwoods League home, the Kokomo Jackrabbits (7-6) have caught fire and are tied for the lead in the Great Lakes East Division after two weeks of the 72-game season. The rabbits are currently the second-hottest team in the league, having won seven of its last 10 games. The Great Lakes West Division leading Madison Mallards (11-2) have won eight of its last 10 and the Mankato MoonDogs (7-6) sit in third-place in the Great Plains West Division after taking wins in seven of its last 10.
During Kokomo’s current run, they recorded three consecutive wins from June 3-5 against Rockford (6-5) and Battle Creek (7-6 and 2-1). They ended the week with a 7-4 victory on the road at Rockford. Of Kokomo’s seven wins, seven different pitchers have been the pitcher of record.
A huge highlight for the Jackrabbits has been the debut of former Kokomo Wildkat and current Ohio State right-handed pitcher Bayden Root. He made his first appearance against Kenosha on June 5, striking out four of the five batters he faced. On June 7 at Battle Creek, he faced 11 batters over three innings as the starter, giving up one hit and striking out four. He came on in relief on June 9 at Rockford and pitched a 1-2-3 inning with a pair of strikeouts.
But while the Jackrabbits are thriving on the field, fans have are not returning to the stands as they have in years past. After six home contests, Kokomo is ranked 21st in attendance at 762 fans per game. Last season after six games, Kokomo averaged 1,237 spectators – meaning the Rabbits are averaging 475 fans fewer per game this year. Madison leads the 22-team Northwoods League at 6,089 per contest, the Duluth Huskies are last at 719, and the league average is 1,594.
Kokomo is back in action at Municipal Stadium for a four-game series starting on June 11 when the Traverse City Pit Spitters visits for the first time. The June 11 game begins at 7:05 p.m. and the two squads play two games on June 12, 1:05 p.m. and 7:05 p.m. before wrapping the series on June 13 at 7:05 p.m.