ELKVILLE, Ill. – When the West Virginia Miners lost game one of a doubleheader Sunday at Champion City, the Kokomo Jackrabbits secured a spot in the 2018 East Division Championship Series of the Prospect League Playoffs. With the Miners’ loss in game two and a Chillicothe Paints 7-4 win over Butler Sunday, the Paints locked down the East’s other playoff spot.

Kokomo (33-21), in its fourth season in the Prospect League, will make a playoff appearance for the second time. The Jackrabbits last appeared in 2016. They were eliminated by the West Virginia Miners two games to none.

Kokomo has been impressive lately, they’ve won nine out of 10 and 12 of the last 15 heading into Tuesday night. The Jackrabbits rank second in the Prospect League in team batting average at .276. They’re second with 100 doubles and a .379 on base percentage this season. On the mound, Kokomo has thrown the most shutouts (7), ranks second in hits allowed (402), third in team ERA (4.00), runs allowed (236), earned runs (202) and walks (210), they’re fifth in strikeouts (463).

Individually, Ian Walters ranks seventh in the league with 63 hits. Colin Butkiewicz is fourth with 15 doubles. Chandler Coates leads all Prospect League qualifying pitchers with an ERA of 1.78. His 8 wins and 10 starts lead the league as well. Closer Braden Niksich is tied for third with five saves.

Chillicothe, a founding member of the Prospect League, makes the playoffs for the seventh time in 10 seasons after a two-year hiatus from postseason play. The Paints win their only Prospect League Championship in 2010. They have made it to the championship round three times. Most recently, the Paints were eliminated two games to one by the West Virginia Miners in 2015.

Chillicothe has been present at or near the top of the East Division Standings nearly all season, partly the result of a pitching staff and defense that has ranked at the top of the league in ERA and fielding percentage nearly all season. Heading into Tuesday, the Paints own the best ERA in the league (3.37) and the top fielding percentage (.973, 55 errors in 55 games)

The offense, which struggled early on has found its way in July, hitting .283 in 27 games this month. The team average for the entire season is up to .261, which ranks fifth in the Prospect League entering Tuesday’s games. The Paints lead the league in doubles (114), are tied for third in home runs (28), rank third in hits (482), fourth in walks (266) and fifth in RBIs (273).

Individually on offense, the Paints have been led by Andrew Czech and Chad Roberts all season. Czech’s 54 games played ties him for the most of any player in the league, he leads the league with 50 RBIs and 20 doubles, is tied for second in hits (68), ranks fourth in at bats (204), sixth in walks (34), seventh in runs scored (39), tied for seventh in home runs (7),  eighth in the league with a .333 batting average. Roberts sits just outside the top ten with a .313 batting average and ranks first in at bats (214), tied for third in runs scored (44), is fourth in hits (67), fourth with 53 games played, sixth in home runs with 8, seventh in RBIs (39), tied for eighth with 12 doubles, and tenth in walks (28). Outfielder/catcher Dillon Dingler doesn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify, but he is hitting .366 in 32 games with a home run, 27 RBIs and 12 doubles, which ties him with teammate Roberts for eighth in the league for two-baggers.

On the mound, left-hander Chris Modrzynski’s 2.49 ERA ranks second among qualifying pitchers in the Prospect League. Michael Jacob has struck out 55 batters, which ranks fourth in the league. Zach Harvey has five wins, tied for third-most. Jack Raines, typically the Paints closer, has an ERA of 1.11 in 17 appearances and has the second-most saves in the league with nine. Ben Bulchik has an ERA of 1.46 in 18 appearances and ranks third (tied) with five saves.

The Jackrabbits hold a 2 1/2 game lead over the Paints for the regular-season division title and the top seed in the East Division Championship Series. Game one will be Sunday, August 5, at the two seed. Game two and, if necessary, game three will be hosted by the regular-season division winner August 6 and 7.

Courtesy of the Prospect League

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Kokomo Post 6 catcher Peyton Tracy smothers a wild pitch during a 9-2 loss to Terre Haute Post 346 in the second round of the Indiana Legion State Finals. (SJ photo/Dean Hockney)


KOKOMO, Ind. – Fresh from winning the Kokomo Regional, the American Legion Post 6 baseball team had high expectations entering the 2018 Indiana State Finals at cfd Investments Stadium in Highland Park. Unfortunately, the Sixers met a state power in the second round and could not emerge from the loser’s bracket the next day.

With T.J. Macaluso on the hill for the opening game against Cicero Post 341, Kokomo came away with a 7-1 victory. Macaluso went the distance, scattering six singles, one earned run and six strikeouts over the course of the seven-inning contest.

At the plate, Pat Mills led the offense with a two-run home run and double in four plate appearances. Breven Sanford doubled and scored three times from the leadoff spot while Noah Hurlock had a single and two runs scored. Brayden Clark also doubled and singled for the Sixers.

Kokomo Post 6 (21-10) ran into a buzz-saw in game two against perennial state power Terre Haute Post 346. Sixer starter Ben Harris gave up five runs in the first inning and Kokomo never recovered in a 9-2 loss. Zach White led the offense with two singles and an RBI. Sanford added an RBI single.

The next afternoon, Post 6 fell to South Bend Post 151 by a score of 3-2 in an elimination game. Pat Mills took the loss, giving up three runs on eight hits over the course of five innings. Nate Hemmerich slammed the door on South Bend with two no-hit innings. Peyton Tracy led the offense with a three-hit game.

Kokomo manager Don Andrews, 189-89 in eight seasons with a pair of state runners-up finishes, will waste little time in selecting next year’s squad. Post 6 will conduct try-outs for the 2019 season on Aug. 4-5 at cfd Investments Stadium.

On Aug. 4, 17-under try-outs for pitchers and catchers will be at 9 a.m. and position players at 10 a.m. 19-under pitchers and catchers will try-out at noon and position players at 1 p.m.

On Aug. 5, 17-under pitchers and catchers will try-out at 1 p.m. with position players to follow at 2 p.m. 19-under pitchers and catchers will try-out at 4 p.m. and position players at 5 p.m.

For more information, contact Andrews by text at (765) 453-5569 or email at andrewsgto@comcast.net.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Indiana State Finals ended after the publication deadline.

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KOKOMO, Ind. – With a month remaining until the new school year begins, coaches at Indiana University Kokomo has been hard at solidifying both rosters and coaching vacancies. The most exciting announcement may have come from the men’s basketball program as a well-known name will join the coaching ranks, while the women’s volleyball program announced its own assistant coach and women’s basketball several new players.

New Cougars men’s basketball coach Eric Echelbarger announced that Roosevelt Jones will serve as the Cougars’ new assistant coach. College basketball fans will recognize Jones as a former Butler University standout player. Jones will serve as the programs recruiting coordinator and direct the player development initiatives while assisting with on-court coaching and scouting.  

Jones, a native of O’Fallon, Illinois, comes to IU Kokomo after spending the last two years playing in the NBA G League for the Canton Charge, an affiliate team for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Additionally, Jones has trained players in the St. Louis region and worked closely with his high school basketball program at O’Fallon Township High School supporting player development.

“We are very excited to add Roosevelt Jones to our coaching staff,” said Echelbarger, who was named as the Cougars’ head coach on June 1. “He had a tremendous playing career at Butler University, and his experience and knowledge will be invaluable to our players. Roosevelt has an unbelievable passion for teaching the game, and his Indianapolis area connections will be a great asset in our recruiting efforts. I have known Roosevelt since he was in the young man attending my basketball camps in Southern Illinois and I am thrilled to have him join the IU Kokomo Cougars basketball program.”

Roosevelt Jones’s playing career (2011-2016) at Butler University is one that Bulldog fans will not soon forget. He holds the program record for career starts at 134 and currently sits in 11th place on the all-time scoring list with 1,533 points. Jones ranks high in many Butler statistical categories including fourth in assists, fifth in rebounds and eighth in steals in Bulldog history. He finished his career with a record of 94-46 and was named All-Big East Conference in back-to-back seasons. Jones played for current Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and Ohio State University head coach Chris Holtmann during his time at Butler. Off the court, Jones double majored in  digital media productions and strategic communications.

“I’m very thankful to Coach Echelbarger and Director of Athletics Greg Cooper for this opportunity,” Jones said. “I can’t wait to meet all the players and begin preparing for a successful 2018-19 season.”

New IUK volleyball assistant coach

Emily Harrison joins the IU Kokomo volleyball staff as assistant coach for the 2018 season. Harrison comes to IU Kokomo after completing her career at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, playing four years of collegiate volleyball at the Division I level as a pin hitter. Harrison was a four-year starter for the SIU-Edwardsville Cougars, having appeared in 114 matches while earning all-tournament team honors on four occasions and helping her team earn a bid to the 2018 NIVC tournament. The Cougars also broke the school’s Division I record for most wins in a season in 2017 and 2018

Harrison ended her senior season with 1.97 kills per set and a .223 hitting percentage. Harrison was also an Ohio Valley Conference Medal of Honor recipient for having a 4.0 GPA for the 2017 school year. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business with cum laude honors.

Harrison graduated from Indiana’s Western Boone High School in 2014. During her time there, she played volleyball and basketball. Harrison was selected for the Indiana Volleyball All-Star team. She also holds the school’s volleyball records for career kills, single-season kills, and career digs. For basketball, Harrison is part of the 1,000 Point Club and holds the school record for career rebounds. Harrison graduated from Western Boone with academic honors.

“I am excited to work with Coach Hayes as she has coached me in the past. I love her will to win and her competitive attitude,” said Harrison. “She has created a great culture at IU Kokomo that I am excited to be a part of. I am looking forward to bringing in a new, fresh perspective that will improve our players and the program as a whole.”

The three-time national tournament qualifying Cougars will kick off their 2018 season on Aug. 22 in a home contest versus Marian University at 7 p.m. at Cougar Gym.

Women’s hoops announces recruits

The IUK women’s basketball program is welcoming the largest incoming class in the programs five-year history.

“I am really enthusiastic about our incoming freshmen class. I believe each of these ladies wants to be at IUK and fits the culture we are building here as well,” head coach Colie Trawick said of the incoming freshman. “Our goal was to recruit different regions in IN with hopes the different styles of play will mesh well together making us much harder to scout. This will truly be a thrilling year for our staff and players. We are excited for their arrival.”

Brittnay Wheeler is a 5-10 forward from Greenfield Central H.S. and plans to major in secondary education. When asked why she made the decision to become a Cougar, Wheeler responded: “I chose IU Kokomo because I really liked the way Coach Colie pushed the girls in practice and I enjoyed the team.”

Natalie Kassen, a 5-5 guard, will join the program from Mooresville H.S. She plans to major in Business. Kassen was an All-State Honorable Mention who led the team in steals and free throw percentage as a junior; as a senior she lead the team in steals and assists. Other athletic achievements include Mental Attitude Award, Captain Award, Scholar Athlete Award, Hoops for Harvest Award.

“I chose IUK because I liked the atmosphere and I felt like I could see myself having an impact on the team and fitting in,” said Kassen, who had a 3.97 GPA in high school.

Braxtyn Hurley is a 5-7 point guard from Richmond H.S. and plans to major in criminal justice. Hurley was an All-State Honorable Mention, three-time All-North Central Conference and selected on the All-Star team twice.

“I loved the energy from the coaches and I love the campus,” she said. “It feels like a place I can call home and feel safe while getting an education and meeting new friends.”

Tiarianah “Tia” Chambers is a 5-11 forward from Penn H.S. who will major in physical therapy. Chambers was Second Team All-NIC, was selected as a McDonalds All-Star and a Top 60 player. She was a part of a high school program that finished as the 2016 IHSAA Class 4A state champions with a 26-2 record. Chambers graduated with academic honors and was an All-State Honorable Mention.

“The school drew me in! I loved the environment and the team,” she said.

Ryann Bunting is a 5-8 guard from Westfield H.S. majoring in psychology. Bunting was part of the high school squad that won the Hoosier Crossroads Conference.

“I wanted to go somewhere close and be a part of a program that has a good team bond. The intensity of the program intrigues me as well,” says Bunting.

Courtesy of Indiana University Kokomo


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