WILDKAT DaSHAUN BARBARY TO PLAY FOOTBALL AT TRINE UNIVERSITY

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. – As the 2016-2017 school year was coming to a close, Kokomo High School senior DaShaun Barbary had a decision to make – what sport would he chose to play in college. In the end, the three-sport Wildkat standout chose to continue his football career at NCAA Division III Trine University.

Barbary, who also played baseball and wrestled, said he immediately liked Thunder head coach Troy Abbs.

“I really like the coach and the facilities are good,” said Barbary, noting he first met the head coach during a visit to KHS. “He visited during one of the school days and we just talked. I want to make a serious impact my first year; he gave us a (summer) workout paper and we will do a fitness test during the school year.”

Barbary is a defensive specialist who also played limited offense. During his senior season, in which he only played in eight games due to an injury, he recorded 28 tackles (13 solo), had one sack and 3.5 tackles for a loss. He also ran the ball for one touchdown and 198 total yards.

“I grew the most from my freshman to sophomore year. I felt tougher and better as a player – I just grew a lot more,” said Barbary, who plans to study pre-physical therapy. “My junior year stood out because we went the farthest. It was really a family. It was a lot of fun. We had a lot of team activities and that really helped with our success. Winning the regional in football was pretty cool.”

During that magical junior season, the Wildkats won the North Central Conference with a perfect regular season. In tournament play, Kokomo captured its second-ever sectional championship and first-ever regional title. They finished with a school record 12 wins and Barbary was named Defensive MVP. He recorded 101 tackles (36 were solo), five sacks and 15 tackles for a loss.

On the wrestling mat, Barbary won more than 71-percent of his matches in a four-year varsity career that included 133 victories. He earned three trips to the semi-state and was the 2016 Oak Hill Sectional champ at 170-pounds and garnered a pair of regional runner-up finishes.

Barbary also excelled at baseball, and when asked what his favorite sport was, he exclaimed, “It depends on what season it is.” He played in 22 games his senior season, helping lead Kokomo to a 21-4 record. He hit .328 (19 for 66) with 17 runs scored, 10 RBIs and seven stolen bases. This summer, he is playing for the Kokomo American Legion Post 6 squad.

But despite the lofty statistics in baseball and wrestling, Barbary’s love is football – and he will be throwing the opponents to the turf for the Thunder of Trine this fall on gridirons across the Midwest.

Posted in Kokomo | Leave a comment

LAFAYETTE TO DEMOLISH HISTORIC LOEB STADIUM IN LATE 2019, BUILD $16 MILLION NEW STADIUM ON SAME SITE

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

LAFAYETTE – Following the lead – and model – of Kokomo Municipal Stadium, the City of Lafayette announced on June 28 that historic Loeb Stadium in Columbian Park will be demolished and a new $16 million facility will be constructed. The long-speculated project will take a year to build, but once finished, will provide Lafayette with a multi-use facility for decades.

Lafayette Mayor Tony Rosarski noted that the public had a huge impact on the decision making, from a steering committee to 600 returned surveys to public hearings. He said the city listened to those suggestions when designing the stadium and he believes it will be an economic boost to the area.

“We are excited. This truly is an exciting time for Greater Lafayette,” he said. “Loeb Stadium and Columbian Park is woven into our history. The memories that have been made here – from baseball to horse shows to fireworks – are about family. And now we are looking to the future and how we can build new memories for people here in Lafayette and from around the world.”

The project, which according to the Lafayette Journal & Courier originally had a $10 million price tag one year ago, will be constructed to host baseball games and soccer matches, much like Kokomo Municipal Stadium. The orientation of the field will be rotated from its current format so that home plate and the front entrance will be at the corner of Main and Wallace streets. Construction of the synthetic turf stadium will begin in August 2019 and will finish one year later.

“The Kokomo stadium has been very successful,” said Roswarski, who noted that the two stadiums will share American StructurePoint as an architect. “We have learned from that. I had a great conversation with (Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight) and he gave me some really good pointers on what he would still do the same and what he might do a little differently.”

Dan McCloskey, senior project engineer at American StructurePoint, said the stadium will continue to feature a 1940’s art deco design to maintain a historical feel.

“We are going to use what is known as an open concourse design,” he said. “You will never leave the field of play when you go to the concessions or rest rooms. So, we will sink the field seven or eight feet. And on the site plan you can see the field is oriented for soccer as well.”

Loeb Stadium – opened in 1940 as the Columbian Park Recreation Center – has been the home field of Lafayette Jefferson High School and the American Legion Post 11 baseball teams since dedication day. The Colt World Series has called Loeb home since 1969 and the Lafayette Aviators of the Prospect League moved in for the start of the 2016 season. The construction timetable means all four entities will need a temporary home for the 2020 campaign.

“We have met with the different user-groups who use the stadium,” said Roswarski. “We have moved the construction schedule out enough to meet everyone’s needs.”

For the North Central Conference-member Bronchos, that means potentially playing an entire season on the road. But according to Principal Mark Preston, the more pressing issue is a practice facility.

“Jeff High School has had a long-standing relationship with the city and we have had a lot of conversion on how this will impact Jeff,” said Preston. “We will be displaced for a year, and it could require that we play a season on the road. But we need to find a place to practice, and we are working with the city to find a place to practice and we feel we will find a resolution to find a practice field for our baseball teams. We are excited about this opportunity and the long-term benefits will be worth it despite the one-year of inconvenience.”

The Colt World Series is already in discussions with Purdue University to host the tournament at Alexander Field. There was no word on what the Legion squad will do during its year away from Loeb.

The Aviators, sister club to the Kokomo Jackrabbits as they are both owned by ROC Ventures in Milwaukee, are currently weighing options – with one being taking an entire year off. ROC management told the J&C that a year-long sabbatical is a, “distinct possibility.” Unlike the Jackrabbits, which is currently second in league attendance at 1,461 per game, the Aviators have struggled to find a footing in the community (598 fans per game this year), thus the new stadium and its added amenities should be a boon for the program.

New Loeb Stadium will feature a suite level and 1,900 chairback-styles seats with estimated dimensions of 330-feet down left field, 400-feet to dead center and a short 310-feet with a raised wall to right. On-site facilities will also be built for a home and visiting teams – Lafayette Jeff and the Aviators will share a building with separate locker rooms. City administrators said the facility will be paid for with an Economic Development Income Tax and not an increase in property taxes.

Posted in Baseball | Leave a comment

JACK’S JABBER WEEK 5

BY MARK ADKINS/KOKOMO JACKRABBITS

KOKOMO, Ind. – A Sunday, July 2, celebration of America and the third Family Wednesday promotion of the 2017 Prospect League season June 28 highlight the June 27-July 2 Kokomo Jackrabbits’ schedule.

A large scale of the span will be spent on the road for first-year field manager Gary McClure’s team. The Brown and Gold visits Champion City Tuesday, June 27; makes their way to Butler for a pair of games against the Blue Sox Thursday and Friday, June 29 and 30; and then returns to Carleton Davidson Stadium, the home of the Kings, for a single game Saturday, July 1.

Home game times are 6:35 p.m. Wednesday and 3:05 p.m. Sunday versus Champion City. First pitches are slated for 6:35 p.m. Tuesday and 7:05 p.m. Saturday at the Kings’ venue and 6:35 p.m. Thursday and 7:05 Friday at the Blue Sox’ Kelly Automotive Park.

A WORD FROM OUR PROMOTIONS DEPARTMENT’

Fans attending the mid-week tilt against the Kings can receive two dugout reserved tickets, two hot dogs and two sodas for $20 for the Jackrabbits’ Family Wednesday event. If your plans include a visit to Kokomo Stadium July 2, you’ll receive an American flag as part of a day which features a kids’ club game, the always-popular Super Soaker promotion and the chance to play catch on the field at game’s end.

Looking further, a Christmas in July promotion is Saturday and Sunday, July 8-9; KMS is transformed into Willie Wonka’s Candyland Sunday, July 16; and the ever-popular Star Wars Night is on the docket Saturday, July 22. The first kids camp is Tuesday, July 25. For more information on these and all things Kokomo Jackrabbits, visit www.kokomojackrabbits.com.

WE LOVE KMS … WE HOPE YOU DO, TOO

Kokomo Municipal Stadium is in process of vying for its third straight Ballpark Digest Best of the Ballparks summer-collegiate section award. Voting in the final eight section is open now until Tuesday, June 27, at 12 p.m. at http://ballparkdigest.com/.

Watch Jacks Jabber and www.kokomojackrabbits.com for updates as the competition continues!

FROM THE CARROT PATCH

Former Prospect League all-star game Most Valuable Player and Jackrabbits’ standout Mark Zimmerman earned his second victory in Class A ball for the San Diego Padres organization, firing an inning and a third with one strikeout as the Tri-City Dust Devils rallied past the Spokane Indians June 22 … Chris Amato, who wore the Brown and Gold in 2015 and 2016, has been on a pair of Frontier League rosters this season. He began with the Southern Illinois Miners and then spent some time with the Windy City Thunderbolts.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING

Complete-game pitching performances have been a rarity on the Prospect League first-half landscape, as only four hurlers have done so. Two of them have come from the Jackrabbits’ staff with Jones Community College’s Will Freeman and Lock Haven University’s Mike Anthony registering them. Club historian and public address announcer Dean Hockney noted that it has occurred five times in franchise history with Anthony doing so twice and being joined by Freeman, past organization member Ryan Lee and former Brown and Gold player Felix Baez … Due to such marks as displayed above, McClure’s staff continues to hold high-rent residence on the PL statistics chart. Freeman’s team-low 2.97 earned run average is 11th-lowest, while fellow starter and former bullpen standout Quentin Miller of Butler University is just three spots off that pace (3.10). Anthony and Freeman are part of a large logjam at No. 6 for wins (two); Anthony is the league leader (44), Freeman is third (41) and reliever Trey Bickel of Indiana University – South Bend is eighth (28) in strikeouts; and Bickel and Indiana University – Southeast’s Ryne Underwood are tied for fifth in saves (two) … On the offensive side of the current numbers, outfielder Imani Willis of Austin Peay, due to five multiple-hit outings, has risen into the top 15 in batting average (.339) at No. 12. Fellow outfielder Luke Fegen of Des Moines Area Community College is tied for sixth in doubles (six); Willis’ three triples have him tied for third, while the trio of Fegen, catcher/designated hitter Collin Butkiewicz of John A. Logan College and infielder Jarrod Watkins of Indiana State University are among a tie for sixth with two each; and Willis’ seven stolen bases have him tied for 10th.

Posted in Baseball, Kokomo Jackrabbits | Leave a comment