Hornets stay hot as Florida trip nears
There are only a few weeks until Florida, but the heat is already here.
That is, if you’re anywhere close to the Johnson County Hornets.
The Hornets’ black squad has gone 13-2 in its last three tournaments to run its season mark to 26-8. Three weeks ago, the Hornets took all comers in the Blue Dragon Classic Showcase in Hutchinson to earn the tournament title there. With a staff ERA of 3.70, pitching has been key to the Hornets’ success.
“The team is doing extremely well,” said Hornets coach Bob Jones. “The pitching staff has really been turning it on. In the Great Plains Shootout (last weekend), we had two pitchers who threw shutout no-hitters: Jake Thompson and Josh Markel. We’ve had great pitching.”
Indeed, all four of the Hornets’ regular starters have ERAs below 3.00. Thompson, a Shawnee Mission Northwest grad, leads the team with a 2.30 mark to go with his 4-1 record, Olathe South’s Josh Markel has collected a 2.50 ERA, while De Soto’s Kyle McCulloch has notched a 2.60 ERA to go with his team-leading five wins in a 5-1 record.
The Johnson County offense hasn’t lacked for highlights of its own. Over the past 15 games, the team has batted .326 with Shawnee Mission South catcher Danny Fader leading the way. Fader leads the team in both batting average (.394) and RBIs (27). Northwest graduate Cody Ball has built up a .343 average, while fellow Northwest Cougar Matt Milner leads the team in the two-spot with an eye-popping on-base percentage of over .600.
But the Hornets have no time to rest on their laurels. The team will head to Columbia, Mo., this week for a four-day tourney on the campus of the University of Missouri before coming back home for a pair of make-up dates. After those are completed, the Hornets will then head to Clearwater, Fla., for their annual trip to the International Baseball Congress World Series, July 23-31.
“Right now we’re really hitting on all cylinders,” Jones said. “This week will be a great test for us. There will be teams there from all over the country including Evansville, Ind., and Chicago.”