Monday, August 30, 2010

Bobcats, others leave KIT League

New circuit will include Pirates, Railroaders, Oilers

When the season starts next spring for the Marion Bobcats, things will be a bit different both on and off the field.

Between the lines, a new manager will be calling the shots in the dugout after Steve Fowler's resignation two weeks ago. Fowler guided the team in its first three years to a 62-84 record. A replacement has yet to be named, but General Manager Gordon Guess said he is in negotiations with a former Bobcat player interested in managing the club.

Off the field, the Bobcats will be playing in a new league. In fact, four of the five KIT League teams from 2010 decided to part company with the 6-year-old summer collegiate baseball league, which has struggled with stability outside of the four Kentucky teams. In fact, the lone club in the 2010 season based outside of the Bluegrass State folded at mid-season and was run by the league office in Paducah, Ky.

Marion will join Tradewater, Fulton and Owensboro in the yet-to-be-named league.

"We are still discussing the league name," Guess said of the respective owners.

The Bobcats general manager said the clubs voted to leave the KIT League in order to play in a restructured circuit designed to better meet the concerns of team owners. The new collegiate league will keep the same on-field rules as the KIT League, such as the use of wooden bats. Players must also be college-eligible to play in the league.

One immediate advantage, according to Guess, will be the geographic concentration of the clubs. In the past, Marion and the three other Kentucky-based teams in the KIT League were forced to play opponents in far-flung places like Farmington, Mo., which was almost  200 miles from the nearest Kentucky franchise. In fact, the logistics were so difficult that the Farmington team played many of is "home" games in Mayfield, Ky.

"It was even too far away for them, as they used Mid-Continent University as a home base when they were playing Marion, Fulton and Tradewater," Guess said.

Guess said the league is in talks with parties from both Paducah and Mayfield interested in joining the new league.

"Sept  8 is a meeting of interested parties," Guess added. "Looks promising if we can overcome challenges such as playing fields, adequate seating, iring general managers and the like."

As for the league's name, Guess has turned to the local newspaper, The Crittenden Press, to help with labeling the circuit. On the newspaper's Web site, an online poll is asking voters which geographic moniker they would best like to be incorporated in the new league's name: Ohio Valley, KIT, West Kentucky or Mid South. To vote in the online poll, click here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fowler resigns as manager

The only manager the Marion Bobcats have known in the club's three-year existence has resigned.

Steve Fowler stepped down Wednesday as the field manager and coach, according to General Manager Gordon Guess. Guess said the split was amicable and would not rule out working with Fowler in some capacity in the future. In fact, the GM credited the 50-year-old skipper for making the team possible three years ago.

"We couldn't have done it without him," Guess said. "He had the connections and recruiting we needed. He's been great to work with."

In his three years, Fowler led the Bobcats to a 62-84 record. No replacement has been named, but the general manager said he has discussed the position with at least one candidate at this time.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Shaw falls just short in championship

The last of the Bobcat alumni has hung up his shoes for the summer.

Gabe Shaw, who earned a win in his only appearance with the Bobcats in 2010, helped take his Cape Cod Baseball League team to the championship, but the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox came up one game short in the playoffs. Shaw posted a 2.61 ERA in the postseason for the Red Sox, appearing in three games and earning a win. However, the Paducah native got no run support in his start in the final game of the championship series on Aug. 12 and took the loss after giving up four runs in 3.1 innings. The Red Sox dropped the game 6-0 to the Cotuit Kettlers and gave the Kettlers the championship.

In 10.1 innings for the Red Sox in the postseason, Shaw struck out 11.

Meantime, Marion's other alumnus in the prestigious league, Travis Jankowski, was part of a team that earned the league's top award for professionalism and integrity. On Aug. 8, the Bourne Braves and Jankowski were presented with the Commissioner's Cup for their actions both on and off the field during the season. Among other things, the Braves had no player or coach ejected from a game.

Jankowski helped the Braves to a division crown and the playoffs, but the Braves were ousted in the opening playoff series. Jankowski had two hits in their two losses.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Shaw still playing in Cape Cod League

Two Bobcat alumni from 2010 helped take their respective Cape Cod Baseball League teams to division titles earlier this month, but only one remains in action in the postseason.

Travis Jankowski batted .346 in eight games for the Bourne Braves, who finished with the Western Division crown behind a 24-20 record. Meantime, pitcher Gabe Shaw earned two wins and a save to help the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox to the Eastern Division title and best record in the league at 27-17. Each team took the top seed heading into the postseason division series, but only Shaw's team survived the first round by sweeping their opponent.

For Jankowski, who batted .484 in 40 games for the Bobcats in the KIT League, the season ended with a disappointing showing by the Braves in the playoffs. The Braves dropped the first game of the best-of-three series with the Wareham Gatemen 9-5 and fell short in 11 innings on Saturday in a 3-2 loss to hand the series to the Gatemen. Jankowski, a native of Lancaster, Pa. and an outfielder from Stony Brook University in New York, went 1-for-5 in each of the Braves' losses and scored one of the team's two runs in Saturday's loss.

Shaw, a native of Paducah, Ky., earned a complete-game win for the Bobcats in his only time on the mound for Marion. For the Red Sox, the University of Louisville right-hander took a 2.70 ERA into the postseason series with the Harwich Mariners and pitched a perfect inning Saturday to wrap up the divisional series with a 6-1 win. The Red Sox will next face on Monday the winner of the Orleans-Brewster series which concludes Sunday.

The Cape Cod Baseball League is America's top amateur baseball league and gives the brightest prospects a large stage on which to perform each summer. Some Major Leaguers who have played in the Cape Cod League include Thurmon Munson, Robin Ventura, Jeff Reardon, Nomar Garciaparra, Buck Showalter, Will Clark, Joe Magrane and Sean Casey.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Jankowski continues hot 2010 in New England

Travis Jankowski, Marion's offensive leader during the 2010 KIT League season, continues his hot hitting in the Cape Cod League, the nation's premiere amateur baseball league.

Jankowski, who ended the regular season with the Bobcats hitting .484 in 40 games to lead the league, is batting .368 in five games for the Bourne Braves. In 19 Cape Cod League at-bats, the lankly left-hander has seven hits, including one double, and three runs scored. With one walk, his on-base percentage is an even .400, and he has swiped two bases. While with the Bobcats, Jankowski stole 45 bases to lead the league by nine steals.

Jankowski signed with the Braves on July 28, missing the KIT League postseason but joining the Bourne club in time to push for a Western Division championship in the Cape Cod League. In fact, the Braves have moved from second place to to lead the division with only two games left in the regular season as of Monday. The league playoffs begin Friday.

A freshman at Stony Brook University in New York, Jankowski is a native of Lancaster, Pa.