JOHN KERRY SAYS RODMAN'S NO DIPLOMAT: Former NBA star Dennis Rodman may be the only American ever to have met and spent time with North Korea's reclusive leader but U.S Secretary of State John Kerry isn't giving him any diplomatic kudos.
Kerry said Tuesday that the ex-Bulls player "was a great basketball player, and as a diplomat, he was a great basketball player."
"That's where we'll leave it," he told NBC News in an interview in Qatar, where he is wrapping up a nine-nation tour of Europe and the Middle East
Rodman made headlines last week with a visit to hermetic North Korea, sat next to youthful autocrat Kim Jong Un at an exhibition basketball game and gave the dictator, who threatens to end the truce with South Korea, several compliments about his leadership.
RAILCATS' NATIONAL ANTHEM TRYOUTS APRIL 5-6: Singer auditions for national anthems at RailCats' games take place from 3 to 6 p.m. April 5 and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 6 in the Diamond Club at U.S. Steel Yard.
NEW FOX SPORTS NETWORK TO DEBUT IN AUGUST: For anyone who thinks TV is already saturated with sports of every stripe, stay tuned.
Here comes Fox with an in-your-face challenge to ESPN — a 24-hour sports cable network called Fox Sports 1, set to launch Aug. 17.
"ESPN, quite frankly, is a machine," Fox Sports executive vice president Bill Wanger said Tuesday in announcing the venture. "They have very consistent ratings, obviously huge revenue. We're coming in trying to take on the establishment."
The new network will be available to 90 million homes.
VU PRODUCT SIGNS WITH FC DALLAS: Former Valparaiso goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck has become the first Crusaders alum to sign a Major League Soccer contract, after inking a deal with FC Dallas on Tuesday,
Zobeck was selected by FC Dallas in the second round (26th overall) of the 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft. He closed out his Valparaiso career as the program's all-time leader in both goals against average (0.91) and shutouts (23), setting single-season records in both categories as a junior (0.66, 11). He was twice named the league goalkeeper of the year. A success off the field as well, Zobeck was one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award during his senior season, and last summer was honored as a Tau Beta Pi Laureate.
VU WALKS OFF AGAINST VILLANOVA: Valparaiso scored twice in the bottom of the ninth, capped by closer Karch Kowalczyk's walk-off pinch single, to down Villanova 7-6 in Port Charlotte, Fla. Andrew Bain went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Tanner Vavra scored three runs in the victory. Ben Mahar (2-0) picked up the win with a scoreless ninth as four VU relievers combined for 4 1/3 shutout innings.
VU PAIR CLAIM HORIZON HONORS: Valparaiso sophomore Brittany Duncan has been named the Horizon League Player of the Week, while freshman Taylor Weissenhofer was selected as the Pitcher of the Week after the duo led the Crusaders to a 3-1 record last weekend at the Buccaneer Invitational in Charleston, S.C.
Duncan earned her third career weekly honor after hitting .545 (6-of-11) with three runs scored and five RBIs. She notched her first career multi-home run game in the Crusaders' run-rule win over UNC Wilmington, driving in five runs. Duncan then went 2-for-3 against #7/9 Tennessee and also reached base three times against Charleston Southern.
Weissenhofer earned the win in all three of Valpo's victories, compiling an 0.88 earned run average while allowing just six hits over 16 innings. She tossed a two-hitter with seven strikeouts against UNC Wilmington, and followed with another five-inning complete-game win versus Charleston Southern, striking out eight. Weissenhofer closed her weekend by entering in relief versus Charleston Southern with the Crusaders trailing 4-1 and throwing six no-hit innings, surrendering just an unearned run, in the come-from-behind win.
VU ADDS 10 RECRUITS TO SQUAD: Valparaiso University's women's soccer team has received commitments from 10 players for next season. The list includes forwards Katriona Anesini (Seattle), Kelsie Bolerjack (Centerville, Ohio), April Cronin (Glenview, Ill.), Allegra Godfrey (Oshkosh, Wis.) and Robin Wenzel (Woodstock, Ill.) midfielders Morgan Manzke (Orland Park, Ill.) and Sydney Rumple (Rockford, Ill.), defenders Krista Carlson (Cherry Valley, Ill.) and Jordan Young (Mason, Mich.) plus defensive midfielder Danielle DeSciscio (North Royalton, Ohio).
MERRILLVILLE OFFERS TICKETS, BUS TRIP TO REGIONAL: Merrillville will sell tickets to Saturday's Class 4A Michigan City Regional and offer bus transportation for students and adults.
Tickets will be available from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. today and Thursday and from 7:30 a.m. to noon Friday. Enter the school through entrance "Q." Tickets are $10 and good for all three games. Bus tickets are $5.
BETWEEN-GAME STOP AT NORTH JUDSON: St. Peter Lutheran School in North Judson will offer food, refreshments and activities from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday for fans attending the Class 2A North Judson Regional. Ribeye sandwiches, Piggies and Cream pork burgers and ice cream, chips, pop, water and candy will be on sale at the school, located at 810 W. Talmer Ave., three blocks north of the high school on Highway 10. The school will open its gym, with games, movies and Wi-Fi also available. For details, contact St. Peter Lutheran School at (574) 896‐5933 or go to www.stpeternorthjudson.org.
REGIONAL TICKETS ON SALE AT MUNSTER, BOONE GROVE: Boys basketball regional tickets are on sale at Munster and Boone Grove. Tickets at Munster are on sale from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Thursday. At Boone Grove, tickets are on sale through noon Friday. Tickets are $10. The Mustangs play in the Class 4A Michigan City Regional on Saturday, while the Wolves play at the Class 2A North Judson Regional.
Around the horn
Calumet College's Eric Johnson (Highland) was named a NAIA Wrestling All-American. He placed eighth in the nation at 197 pounds.