Hammond Chiefs to make changes to program
By Mike Clark Post-Tribune correspondent July 28, 2012 11:22PM
Updated: August 30, 2012 6:35AM
The region’s most successful summer baseball program is getting a makeover.
Coming in 2013 for the Hammond Chiefs will be a new name and a new feeder team.
Moving forward, the program Dave Sutkowski founded more than 20 years ago will be known as the Indiana Chiefs of Hammond. It’ll be made of three squads: 14-and-under, 15-16 and 17-and-under.
That means the Chiefs will no longer have 18-year-old players and the Hammond Seninoles, their current 16-year-old affiliate, will no longer exist.
Two things that won’t change: the marquee team’s affiliation (Senior Babe Ruth) and the home field for all three clubs (Riverside Park in Hammond).
“We’ve been kind of kicking around the past couple years how we wanted to go forward with this,” Sutkowski said. “What we’re trying to do is expand our program, get kids into our program at a younger age.”
The idea is to have players working with Chiefs coaches for four seasons. They’d have to find another team when they turn 18, but fewer and fewer have been sticking around in recent years anyway.
“The problem we’ve had … is getting a commitment from the older kids,” Sutkowski said.
Though “Indiana” will be in the teams’ names, Sutkowski doesn’t expect to draw players from beyond its traditional base in Lake and Porter counties.
Tryouts for the new 14-U team will be at 1 p.m. today at Riverside Park. Also, tryouts for all three teams will be held Aug. 5 and 12, with 14-U at 10 a.m., 15-16 at 1 p.m. and 17-U at 4 p.m. For more information, go to hammondchiefs.com or call Sutkowski at (219) 852-9461.
Storm surge: The Porter County Storm Red won the Senior Babe Ruth Northern Indiana State Rec. tourney for teams not competing in the national playoffs, edging the Munster Hitmen 8-7 last Sunday in Chesterton.
Among the key performers for Storm Red (19-5) were third baseman/pitcher Austin Porter (Morgan Township), pitcher CJ Wodetzski (Wheeler) and catcher Joe Ponda (Chesterton).
“The way we have it set up, the Black team is the national team. The Red team, they’re supposed to win the State Rec. tournament,” Storm Black manager and program founder Nick Doud said.
Many of this year’s Red players will move up to the Black next season, to be replaced by members of the 2012 White club.
“We’re trying to get into the program aspect, where the White team is eventually the Black team,” Doud said.
More hardware for Hebron: Hebron’s Junior League (13-14) softball team, which won the District 2 title to qualify for state, is no stranger to success. The club also won district titles as 10-year-olds and 12-year-olds.
Familiarity has helped.
“Jake Wheeler and I have been coaching these girls for six years,” Tim Riese said. “We’ve got a good group of girls; we’ve been able to keep them together.”
That hasn’t been easy lately. With the state tourney falling on a different week than in past years, some scheduling conflicts have arisen. Riese and his daughter Amelia, the team’s regular catcher, had to cut short a family vacation to Florida in order to return for state. And outfielder Daryn Torres missed Friday’s state game for her quinceanera.
But Hebron, which has just 11 players, figured to be at full strength for most of the state tourney. Emily Yankauskas, Cayla Rokosz and Taylor Wheeler handle the pitching and also play the infield, as do Sasha Pass and Bailey Michalak. Other outfielders are Bailee Torres, Ashley and Alyssa Doeing and Annabell Folsom.
Around the diamond: The Hammond Hurricanes Senior Babe Ruth organization is seeking players for its fall league at Morton High School. Players must have been born between Jan. 1, 1994 and May 1, 1997. The cost is $60 for returning players and $90 for new players. For info, contact Rick Ramirez (219-513-9272 or email@example.com) or Alex Ramirez (219-545-0499 or firstname.lastname@example.org). ... The Porter County Storm Senior Babe Ruth program will hold tryouts from noon to 3 p.m. today at Westchester Middle School in Chesterton. Also, the Storm are seeking players for their fall league, which costs $150 for new players and $120 for returning players. To be eligible, players must have been born in 1994, ’95, ’96 or before May 1, 1997. For more info, call or email Storm manager Nick Doud at (219) 331-3080 or email@example.com. ... Registration for the Crown Point Babe Ruth Fall League will be noon-3 p.m. Aug. 4 and 11 at the Crown Point Fun Center Dome, 1301 Merrillville Rd. The cost is $95 for Crown Point residents and $110 for non-residents and there are two divisions (12-14 and 15-18). Full teams may register. For more info, call John Pearson at (219) 682-4351.
Have a story idea for this weekly notebook? Email firstname.lastname@example.org