Saturday, January 3, 2009

Brooks Stadium to host KIT all-stars

Paducah's Brooks Stadium will host this year's KIT League All-star game, the first-ever for the summer collegiate baseball league.

Marion Bobcats General Manager Gordon Guess says no date has been finalized for the East-versus-West Division all-star contest, but July 8 and 9 remain open on the preliminary KIT League schedule released early this week. The two dates are approximately midway through the 50-game schedule for each team. KIT League action begins May 29.

Brooks Stadium, with a storied, long history of both professional and American Legion baseball, seats about 3,000 people and exists as a central location for the eight-team 2009 KIT League. Also, Paducah exists as the home office for the league and its commissioner, Randall Morgan.

The ballpark opened in 1949, hosting the Paducah Chiefs of the Mississippi-Ohio Valley League for two years before the club moved back to the famed Kitty League. Paducah had been without a team in the league with franchises from Kentucky, Illinois and Tennessee (KIT or "Kitty") since 1942. It remained home to the Chiefs from 1951 to 1955. It is one of three remaining ballparks from the original Kitty League.
The all-star game in the new Kitty League, as the new KIT League was created in 2005 to be known, will use Brooks Stadium as a neutral site for the mid-season classic. The best players from the four East Division teams – Marion, Tradewater, Owensboro and West Kentucky – will face the top baseballers from the West Division – Fulton, Union City, Farmington and Sikeston.

In the past, the all-star game pitted the best players from a six-team KIT League against those from the Central Illinois Collegiate League. The expansion of the Kitty League for 2009 by adding the Mayfield-based West Kentucky Mavericks and the returning Sikeston Bulls after a year away from the league allows for the intra-league all-star game. Players from each of the 24-man rosters from teams in each division will make up the respective teams.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Preliminary 2009 schedule released

Marion will open the 2009 KIT League season on the road, rekindling the hottest rivalry from the team’s first foray into the summer collegiate baseball league, if last week’s preliminary league schedule holds true. The team would also spend 31 of its 50 games at the friendly confines of Gordon B. Guess Field.

But several tweaks and changes will be needed before the first pitch is thrown, cautions League Commissioner Randall Morgan.
“This is an imperfect schedule; just a start for getting the final one done,” he said. “It will work out.”
According to the early schedule, the Bobcats begin play May 29 with a three-game series at Tradewater and will face the Pirates seven times in the team’s first 23 games. Marion will host all but three of the 10 games against Tradewater in 2009, according to the posted schedule.
In 2008, Marion (20-28) split the season series with the Pirates (35-15) and stretched the first-place club to a third and decisive game in the second round of the playoffs. At 5-5, the Bobcats, led by the Pirates’ old skipper Steve Fowler, boasted the best record against Tradewater in 2008 play.
With the league’s new format this year – two four-team divisions with weighted intradivisional play – wins against the Dawson Springs club will be critical for the Bobcats to make a run at KIT crown. Only the two best teams from each division will make the playoffs, a contrast from the league’s past when all teams were eligible for postseason play.
In fact, a great deal of the Bobcats’ fortunes could hinge on first 10 games of the 2009 campaign, with all being against East Division foes. Following the three-game set at Tradewater, Marion is home for a seven-game home-stand over eight days. The Bobcats’ home opener on June 1 will be against the 2008 league champion Owensboro Oilers. After two games with the Oilers, the new West Kentucky (Mayfield) Mavericks and Tradewater head to town.
The Bobcats will then jump to interdivisional play, with 10 games against the Union City Greyhounds and the Sikeston Bulls, who return to the league from a 2008 hiatus. Ten more games outside of the East Division will remain against the Farmington Firebirds and Fulton Railroaders, with five at home June 27-July 2 and five on the road July 16-20.
Marion will finish June and enter July with the longest home-stand of the year – 13 games beginning June 22 against the Pirates and culminating with a doubleheader against the Mavericks on July 4. That will be one of two doubleheaders the Bobcats play, with the other also hosting the Mavericks on June 5.
Fowler’s team will head up U.S. 60 to Owensboro for half of its 10 road games in July. Three games to far-away Farmington and two more to Fulton in the swelter of mid-July will also test the team before returning home for a final two games against West Kentucky. The Bobcats finish the season on the road with a three-game set at Owensboro.
A best-of-three divisional playoff beginning July 28 will pit the top team in each division against the second place team in the other division. Winners of each series will face starting July 31 for the best-of-three championship series.
To view the preliminary 2009 schedule, follow the link.