RSSRegion Sports Extra
GARY | The RailCats woke up this morning to a roster move, picking up left-handed reliever Mike Hanley from Florence for a player to be named later and releasing infield-outfield versatile player Aljay Davis.
Davis played in two games over the weekend for the RailCats, going 1-for-3 with a run.
Hanley was in his third season in Florence, making one appearance already this season allowing a run in one inning. In his career with the Freedom, he has a 2.87 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings pitched.
With the addition of Hanley, the RailCats have three lefties in the bullpen including Estevan Uriegas and Clay Zavada.
GARY | The RailCats have three morning games this season, two in the next two days. All three are designed to cater to kids, with the parking lot full of school buses.
The weather is threatening, but maintaining a comfortable high-70s with the wind blowing with quite some force out to left field.
SS Ryan Khoury
Griffith athletic director Bill Crowley notified media members by email this morning that Thursday's sectional game will not be played.
"Gary Roosevelt is not sending a team to the Sectional 17 Baseball Tournament," Crowley said. "The Thursday game between Gary Roosevelt and Griffith is a forfeit. Griffith will advance to play in the semi-finals."
Griffith will play the winner of the Hammond vs. Gavit game in one semifinal on Saturday.
Roosevelt registered for the sectional, unlike in the girls sectional when Roosevelt did not properly register and was not permitted to participate.
Last season, two of the Gary teams did not arrive for their sectional baseball games. Lew Wallace beat Roosevelt in a quarterfinal game at Clark, then Wallace did not appear for the semifinal game, automatically advancing Clark to the finals. In Class 4A, West Side did not arrive for its quarterfinal game against Morton, something that new coach Malcolm Jordan said would not happen again this year.
GARY | A native of Wisconsin who attended Michigan Tech, Michelle Fields arrived in Northwest Indiana in 1995.
Moved around the Midwest by U.S. Steel, Fields returned to Gary last August as the plant manager for the primary side of U.S. Steel's Gary Works.
She quickly became a part of U.S. Steel's sports scene, playing on the company's softball and basketball teams.
"She's our resident best female athlete," said Al Spajer, the Director of Employee Relations at U.S. Steel Gary Works.
So months ago, after U.S. Steel signed a new agreement to keep the naming rights at the park, Fields was tabbed to throw out the first pitch for Thursday's RailCats' opening day.
GARY | The RailCats open their season at home for the first time since 2010, and the last time it was this early in May was 2008.
Over that time, the 'Cats have opened in Fargo-Moorhead (2009), Grand Prairie (2011) and St. Paul (2012). The team is 1-3 in season openers at home and 4-7 overall in the first game of the year.
5:02 p.m. RailCats are wearing new batting practice unis to open 2013. They're maroon with green numbers and green batting helmets. The front of the red shirts have the RailCats' claw holding the RC baseball.
Lineups for Thursday's game:
With Moussa Gueye seemingly the final piece of the puzzle for the 2013-14 Valparaiso men's basketball team, we can now look at a projected depth chart for the Crusaders.
Gueye represents the final scholarship provided the rest of the team returns. As I noted yesterday, the Crusaders have had a player prematurely leave the program every year since 2001.
Let's take a look at a very early projection for the depth chart.
Center -- Moussa Gueye, Vashil Fernandez, David Chadwick
Power Forward -- Bobby Capobianco, Jubril Adekoya
Bryce Drew made some national waves on Wednesday evening when he announced the addition of Alabama transfer Moussa Gueye.
Gueye's name should be familiar to any diehard Valparaiso basketball fan, as the Senegal native once gave a verbal commitment (more on that later) to the Crusaders before taking his talents to Alabama.
Gueye wasn't what you'd call a superstar for the Crimson Tide, but his shot blocking prowess is enough to turn some heads. The seven-foot center shot well under 40 percent from the floor at Alabama, but Drew has expressed optimism that Gueye's offense will improve.
So just what should fans expect with the addition of Gueye?
Drew is getting a one-year rental that could completely alter the interior defense, allowing Bobby Capobianco to play power forward, and the Crusaders to field a much larger lineup than they have in years past. Drew could also be getting a player that doesn't fit in, is only interested in a pro contract and could be a season-long disaster. I think the chances that Gueye is a disruption are the same as the chances he scores 20 points a game. The truth will be somewhere in the middle.
Months of speculation and rumors were finally put to rest this week when Oakland officially accepted a bid to join the Horizon League. The news didn't move the needle all that much on the national stage, given that Davidson accepted a bid to the Atlantic 10 on the same day (that didn't move the needle much either), but it's still noteworthy.
It's my opinion that the Horizon League is a better basketball conference today than it was at the end of the season.
While I've been silently clamoring for Oakland to join the conference since Butler left last summer, not everyone has shared my view. As soon as the rumors began, my Twitter feed/text messages have shown a split as to whether or not Valparaiso fans have been accepting of Oakland.
One common theme has been that by adding Oakland, the Horizon League does nothing to expand its footprint. Yes, that is accurate. No, I don't think it's relevant.
The Horizon League is a great conference, but this isn't the Big Ten we're talking about. The Horizon League is what it is: a collection of Midwest schools that generally are not the biggest draw in their market; while still delivering an exciting brand of basketball.
Portage's Kevin Jones and Ty Kniola are the best 1-2 pitching combination in the Duneland Athletic Conference that's not named Plesac. Jones, a transfer from Chesterton who somehow couldn't find innings with the Trojans last year, has a plus fastball and a sharp-breaking curve ball that should become livelier as the cold weather abates. The combination will hold the Indians steady through the upcoming glut of games prompted by last week's rash of postponements.
Speaking of which, Valparaiso hasn't played a DAC game as of this writing, and its depleted pitching staff has yet to be seriously tested. That will change this week with games every day and no Devin Bafia or Andrew Sykes to lean on. Bafia, the Vikings ace, is suspended for half the season and Sykes, who returned with the second-most innings on the staff, reportedly quit after facing the same penalty.
Perennial power Boone Grove has leveled off in the last few seasons, a but Rollie Thill's senior-dominated Wolves team is 8-1 after topping a decent Michigan City squad Saturday. It will be a factor in the PCC race as it begins to unfold this week.
The RailCats will be the first American home to right-handed pitcher Takahiro Matsuka, a reliever with Japanese Major League experience.
The right-hander had a 4.50 ERA in 22 innings in the Japan Central League and Japan Pacific League in 2009 and 2010. Last season, he played 15 innings over 16 appearances with a 5.40 ERA in the minor league system of the Nippon Ham Fighters.
The team also signed outfielder Drew Martinez, a 10th-round pick by the Los Angeles Angeles in 2011. Last season, Martinez batted .259 with 19 RBI and 37 runs scored in 58 games between the Angels’ Rookie and Class A affiliates. He was 17-for-20 in stolen base attempts.
To make space in the outfield for Martinez, the RailCats traded outfielder Trevor Willis to the Schaumburg Boomers in the Frontier League as part of a three-team deal. The RailCats will receive a player to be named later from the Rockford Aviators.
Despite various reports that Loyola (Ill.) is set to join the Missouri Valley Conference later this week, Horizon League commissioner Jon LeCrone stayed quiet on the topic as well as other possible realignment plans on Monday morning.
"I couldn't say anything about that," LeCrone said. "If they have an announcement, then we will have a statement at that time."
Multiple reports had UIC heading to the MVC last week only to lose traction as it appears the Ramblers will leave the Horizon League instead. It has been rumored that the Horizon League has selected Oakland to join the league as early as next year, yet another topic that LeCrone avoided.
"Typically people in the know don't say anything and the people that talk quite a bit don't know what is happening," LeCrone said.
LeCrone has long stated that the Horizon League would handle all realignment discussions internally and would have an announcement once something was imminent.
Promise for Gary baseball
West Side coach Malcom Jones contacted the Times to provide an update on the status of youth baseball in Gary. Jones said that he and Byron Jones changed the Gary Youth Baseball program to Steel City and steered its affiliation toward Babe Ruth. Jones added that Ed French took over GYB, re-naming it Gary Metro, and has experienced a dramatic turnaround in the last three years. According to Jones, it has experienced exponential growth, its Juniors rivaling Portage and Valparaiso, and its younger levels ranking third in teams, behind only the aforementioned 'big two' of Indiana District One.
The RailCats will host their annual Open Player Tryout at U. S. Steel Yard on Thursday, May 2. The tryout costs $50, which must be paid in cash only on the day of the tryout. Registration will begin at 9:30 a.m. for position players and 11:30 a.m. for pitchers.
Players who are trying out must bring their own baseball equipment, including cleats, gloves, wooden bats and catcher’s gear. Upon arriving at U. S. Steel Yard, players should enter through the RailCats Entry Gate on Stadium Plaza – between Fourth and Fifth Avenue – and head to the field for registration. There is no need to preregister before the day of the tryout.
New Satellites coach thinking big
South Central has never been afraid to play the big schools, having scheduled the likes of Portage, Valparaiso and Michigan City for many years, and new Satellites coach Ryan Kruszka embraces that challenge.
"Those are good games for us," Kruszka said. "We want to play those kind of teams."
Kruszka, who played at Butler, was previously the pitching coach at perennial powerhouse Brownsburg, and he's working on a four-team round-robin tournament with the Bulldogs and Warren Central.
Milo Stovall went through a range of emotions when the sophomore guard saw Valparaiso’s name appear on the screen during the 2000 NCAA Selection Show.
Stovall was thrilled to be playing in Valparaiso’s fifth straight NCAA tournament, but the Michigan native cringed when he saw the Crusaders’ seed as well as their opponent.
“We were projected as a 15, maybe even a 14, but then it was a 16 and it was like there was no way possible that could happen,” Stovall said on Sunday night. “Then it pops up that we’re playing Michigan State and my first thought was excitement because I always wanted to play those guys…then reality set in.”
The reality was that Michigan State was one of the best teams in the country coming into the tournament and the Spartans ran the Crusaders out of Cleveland with a 65-38 first-round victory on their way to an eventual national championship.
“We knew the game wasn’t in East Lansing, it was going to be (on a neutral court) in Cleveland, but they were one of the best out there and they were playing like it,” Stovall said. “We knew right away that it was going to be a war.”
Read the Times' Storify of the Crusaders' tourney title win.
Ryan Broekhoff’s shot was literally heard around the world on Saturday night.
The national media (and this hack as well) had a field day comparing Broekhoff’s buzzer-beating miracle with “The Shot,” especially given that Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew ended up in the same position on the floor that he was in 15 years ago.
Drew’s shot is undoubtedly the biggest in school history and Broekhoff’s is arguably No. 2, especially if the Crusaders can make it back to the NCAA tournament for the first time in nine years on Tuesday night. Still, there have been other buzzer-beaters that have stood out over the years.
Kevin Van Wijk beat the clock to force overtime against Kent State this season and Erik Buggs went coast-to-coast to beat Detroit last year. Howard Little beat the shot clock two years ago late in overtime against Butler and Brandon McPherson had the New Year’s Eve Miracle against Milwaukee in 2009.
The Mid-Con Era also saw some key buzzer-beating moments, including Greg Tonagel hitting a 77-foot 3-pointer to beat Belmont in 1999 and Ivan Vujic hitting a layup to beat Oral Roberts in 2000. Shawn Huff hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the final 18 seconds to force overtime against Oral Roberts in 2007 and then hit the game-winning 3-pointer with just over two minutes remaining.
The RailCats return all-time home run leader Cristian Guerrero to the team with the signing announced Monday.
“I’m thrilled to have Cristian back in a RailCats uniform,” manager Greg Tagert said in a release Monday. “I know he’s excited and he’s been such a tremendous contributor to our success over the years. I have already heard from some of his teammates and they are ecstatic about it.”
Guerrero, 32, is the RailCats hit 58 home runs in four seasons and also holds the single-season record of 19, set in 2010. The Bani, Dominican Republic native is also the career leader in slugging percentage (.483) and OPS (.842), and is tied for third-all time in RBI (256).
Guerrero was granted his release from the team last year, was signed by Winnipeg then dealt to Sioux Falls. Last season, he batted .249 with 59 RBIs for the Pheasants while leading the team and ranking 11th in the league with 15 home runs.
Guerrero, the cousin of former Major League start Vladimir Guerrero, is best known for hitting home runs in five consecutive at-bats on the same day during a doubleheader on July 9, 2010 at the Rockford RiverHawks. He became just the second professional baseball player ever to accomplish that feat and earned national recognition.
Win a Times travel mug by picking the correct score in the Class 4A and Class 2A regional semifinals! Tweet your guess for the final score and the winner of the Merrillville vs. Lake Central girls basketball game in Class 4A and the Whiting vs. Boone Grove game in Class 2A to @NWI_Hillary with the hashtag #nwiHSsports before 9 a.m. Saturday morning. The tweeter with a score closest to the actual final will win the prize. In case of a tie, the tweet sent first will be selected the winner. One winner will come from each class.
Times Media Co. employees and their families are not eligible. Only entries with the #nwiHSsports hastag sent to @NWI_Hillary are eligible for the contest. Per Twitter rules, anyone found using multiple accounts to enter will be disqualified. One entry per Class per account, so choose wisely. Winners will be notified through Twitter and must pick their prize at their closest Times office. Prizes not picked up within 30 days of notification will be forfeited.
Purdue head football coach Darrell Hazell announced the signing of 23 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent to play for the Boilermakers.
The class features three early enrollees in quarterback Danny Etling, defensive end John Strauser and L.C. product David Yancey.
The group hails from seven different states, with five each from Georgia, Florida and Ohio, three each from Illinois and Indiana and one each from Kentucky and Texas.
PCC game rescheduled: The Hanover Central at Boone Grove girls basketball game, originally scheduled for Thursday, was postponed to Tuesday due to the inclement weather.
The Wolves beat the Wildcats en route to the Porter County Conference tournament championship, taking the Kup from Hanover Central.
The game ends Boone Grove's conference season, while Hanover Central has three games remaining. The Wolves are 4-2 in PCC play, while the Wildcats are 3-1.
Come back for more postponements as they are announced.
First up, here is the link to the much shorter print story about Ryan Broekhoff's journey from young freshman to Valparaiso star.
I can still remember a mid-November afternoon in 2008 when I scoured the internet searching for an international phone card. I'd heard rumor of a talented Australian player giving a verbal commitment to the Valparaiso men's basketball team and I wanted to figure out just who this Ryan Broekhoff character was.
It took me an hour to find a reliable phone card and then took me three tries to get Marty Clarke on the phone from the Australian Institute of Sport.
Clarke had glowing (yet realistic) things to say about Broekhoff. One quote stood out in my mind and it was one that I included in my initial story on Broekhoff's signing.
ESPN put the final nail in the coffin of its annual mid-major love fest on Tuesday morning, announcing that this will be the final season of the BracketBuster event.
The event started in 2002-03 and promised exposure for mid-major programs that had a chance to bust brackets in the upcoming NCAA tournament. Personally, I always thought the event was shrewd way for the higher-ups to ensure that half the talented mid-major teams lost a game late in the season, which would ultimately tarnish their resumes.
The BracketBuster event has had some ups-and-downs as far as Valparaiso is concerned. With just one more game to be held in the event, here is a look back at Valparaiso's eight BracketBuster games in order of relevance.
8. Feb. 20, 2010 -- at Bowling Green L 87-70
How much difference a year makes. Cameron Witt went from starting the BracketBuster game in 2009 to playing just one minute against Bowling Green. Brandon McPherson had 16 points and seven assists, but the Crusaders had 18 turnovers and trailed 49-24 at halftime.
Valparaiso men's basketball coach Bryce Drew finally was able to insert Bobby Capobianco (hernia) into the rotation this weekend and the Crusaders are likely three weeks away from gaining the services of point guard Lavonte Dority. Once Dority is eligible, and provided there are no more injuries, Drew will finally have a complete squad.
The question will be how the minutes get distributed and, more importantly, what positions will players be at on the floor. Here is my breakdown on what I think we'll see by the time Horizon League play begins in January.
Erik Buggs has been much improved this season at the charity stripe (75 percent) and he is in many ways, the heart-and-soul of the Valparaiso basketball team. He's the veteran and has been career starter since he arrived in 2008. Buggs won't lose his starting role to Dority, but the backup point guard position will be greatly elevated when the South Florida transfer becomes eligible. Will Bogan has played the second most minutes on the team this season (170) and has been forced to play out of position as the backup floor general. Bogan is a very capable basketball player, but he's been given the point guard responsibilities almost by default. He's a company line guy, but I'd think Bogan would be eager to return to his full-time role as a shooting guard, even if that meant less overall minutes.
Follow The Times
From fresh or smoked sausages, to imported polish mushrooms an…
When you combine NITCO’s reliable phone service with fast inte…
Stop in and visit Lightning Fireworks today!
Fast-teks’ highly trained staff provides professional, high-qu…
As you may know personally, or certainly you have heard how gr…
Al Hamnik has been a reporter and columnist in Northwest Indiana for 42 years and is a member of the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame, as well as a winner of the Indiana sportswriter of the year award, an IHSAA media award winner, a Corky Lamm Award winner and a three-time HSPA winner.
Steve Hanlon was the Prep Beat writer for The Times from 1995 through 2000 before he went to work at the Indianapolis Star. Upon returning to The Times in 2004, he covered Valparaiso University for one season before he took back the Prep Beat beat in 2005.
Jim Hunsley covers a menagerie of sports as a reporter in the Times.
Paul Oren is a beat reporter for Valparaiso University as well as various high school sports throughout the Region. He has covered NCAA tournaments in basketball, soccer, tennis and volleyball, along with numerous IHSAA state championship events.
Jim Peters graduated from Andrean (Class of 1981) and Purdue (1985), where he met and worked with current Porter County Assistant Sports Editor Greg Smith. He spent the first 10 or so years of his professional career at a chain of Northwest Indiana weeklies that covered Merrillville, Andrean, Hobart, Portage, Lake Station and River Forest before catching on at the Times in the summer of 1998. Jim covers high school sports in Porter County.
Hillary Smith has covered prep, pro and college sports -- and even a Dixie Baseball World Series -- for newspapers north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line since 1995.
- Petal Talk with Jean Starr
- NWI TweetUp
- BBQ and the Works
- Blog NWI
- Midwestern Literature
- Jeff Eriks' Small Business & Construction Blog
- How to Publish a Book of Blues. Hopefully.
- Daltons Briefs
- Dave Woodson: Real Estate, Mortgage and Tech
- Mad Mortgage Machine
- Kathy Sipple: My Social Media Coach
- Josh Walker: Deconstruction Theory
- Hammond Ramblings
- Digital Lifestyles the Linux Way
- Marketing Blueprint
- Northwest Indiana Politics
- Gardening: Kiss My Aster
- Kevin Tracy and his most excellent contributors
- Blue County in a Red State
- The Valpo Core
- Northwest Indiana Blogs
- Northwest Indiana Pundit
- Beyond The Region
- Clair Boone: Mummy Deals
- One Nerve Left
- David Tamez
- Mystified in the Middle East
Calling all bloggers
Are you a local blogger? Want to get noticed? Email us your URL/feed information to be included on our Northwest Indiana blogroll.
Should college students be required to do community service projects that put theories into practice?
- LIVE: RailCats morning game vs. WichitaMay 22, 2013 10:45 am
- LIVE: RailCats vs. Wingnuts in first early game of the seasonMay 21, 2013 10:45 am
- PREP BASEBALL: Roosevelt forfeits sectional game before postseason beginsMay 21, 2013 8:36 am
- FIRST PITCH: Opening day, Michelle FieldsMay 16, 2013 7:30 pm