FREEDOM FANS CAN GET A HIPPOPOTAMUS FOR CHRISTMAS

Fans that have always wanted a hippopotamus for Christmas now have the chance.

Thanks to a partnership with the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Florence Freedom fans can get their hands on a one of kind Fiona the Hippopotamus Snow Globe this holiday season to receive during the July 25 Christmas in July game and promotion.

The reigning Frontier League West Division champion Freedom will take on the Normal Cornbelters on Wednesday, July 25 at UC Health Stadium in Florence.

Fans can guarantee themselves a Fiona snow globe by taking advantage of one of the Freedom’s specialty Christmas packs.

Ticket options for the specialty Fiona Christmas in July Snow Globe are listed below:

  1. Single Game Fiona Pack: One (1) reserved ticket to July 25 + Snow Globe: $16
  2. Family Fiona Pack: Four (4) reserved tickets to July 25 + 2 Snow Globes: $50
  3. Stocking Stuffer Fiona Pack: 12 undated ticket vouchers good to be used in any fashion + 4 Snow Globes: $120

NOTE: This is not a traditional giveaway. Fans that purchase one of the packs above will be the only ones to receive the Snow Globe.

With each Fiona holiday pack sold, the Florence Freedom will make a contribution to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Foundation.

“Is there anyone who hasn’t fallen in love with Fiona yet?” Freedom VP / General Manager Josh Anderson said. “This will be one of those unique promotional giveaway nights fans will want to take advantage of, and it might be 2018’s best baseball giveaway.”

The Fiona snow globes will be in limited supply and fans will only be able to guarantee a snow globe with a purchase online at FlorenceFreedom.com before January 15.

“We never imagined that there would be a Fiona snow globe or that it would be available in July! We’re thrilled to partner with the Freedom on this very unique giveaway,” said Chad Yelton, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the Cincinnati Zoo.

In addition to the Fiona Snow Globe, the Freedom will wear custom Fiona jerseys that night that will be auctioned off to the crowd. The jersey sales will also benefit the Zoo.

The Florence Freedom are members of the professional independent Frontier League and play all home games at UC Health Stadium located at 7950 Freedom Way in Florence, KY.

The Freedom can be reached for holiday packs, season tickets and group tickets by calling 859-594-4487.

CORNBELTERS BEAT BLACK FRIDAY DEALS ON SALE NOW

The Normal CornBelters, presented by Illinois Corn Farmers, have announced their Beat Black Friday promotion featuring ticket deals for their 2018 Opening Weekend.

Beginning on Monday, November 20th at 10:00 a.m., fans will be able to purchase exclusive Beat Black Friday Deals (while supplies last) at www.normalbaseball.comTo visit the Box Office Store for the sale, click here. Packages may be redeemed for games during the CornBelters 2018 Opening Weekend May 11-13 (some limitations apply).

The available packages consist of:

  • Opening Weekend Family 4-Pack of Reserved Box Seats – 50% OFF
  • Regular Price = $40
  • Beat Black Friday Price = $20
  • 25 packs available
  • Opening Weekend Luxury Suite (single) with Food Package – 50% OFF
  • Regular Price = $640
  • Beat Black Friday Price = $320
  • Six (6) suites available, two available for each game night
  • Includes sixteen (16) suite tickets and eight (8) parking passes
  • To view the Luxury Suite food package, click here
  • Note: Price does not include gratuity for the suite server
  • Opening Weekend Group Night for 20 in Reserved Box Seats – 75% OFF
  • Regular Price = $160 ($8 per seat)
  • Beat Black Friday Price = $40
  • Ten (10) packages available
  • Opening Weekend 2-Pack of Reserved Box Seats and CornBelters T-Shirts – 50% OFF
  • Regular Price = $50
  • Beat Black Friday Price = $25
  • 50 packs available
  • Note: T-shirts will be available for pick-up from Guest Services on the day of the game
  • Opening Weekend Family Picnic 4-Pack – 50% OFF
  • Includes four (4) General Admission Lawn Seats, four (4) regular hot dogs, four (4) bottles of water, four (4) bags of chips
  • Regular Price = $40
  • Beat Black Friday Price = $20
  • 25 packs available
  • Opening Weekend Outdoor Suite Group Night for 10 – 50% OFF
  • Includes a reserved spot on our third base line party decks with access to an all-you-can-eat and drink (includes draft beer) service line out of the Corny’s concession stand from gates open until fifth inning
  • Regular Price = $420 ($42 per person, includes draft beer)
  • Beat Black Friday Price = $210
  • Six (6) suites available, two available for each game night
  • Opening Weekend 4-Pack of Big League Scout Seats – 50% OFF
  • Includes premium seats in the first two rows behind home plate (Sections 108/109) with access to an all-you-can-eat and drink (includes draft beer) service line out of the Kernel’s Kitchen concession stand from gates until the fifth inning
  • Regular Price = $168 ($42 each)
  • Beat Black Friday Price = $84
  • Five (5) packs available for each game night

Further information on each package will be available within the team store details, including the redemption process for certificates. For questions, contact the CornBelters by calling or texting 309-454-2255 or emailing tickets@normalbaseball.com.

2018 OPENING WEEKEND PROMOTIONS

CEFCU Opening Night on Friday, May 11th (gates open at 6:05 p.m. with first pitch at 7:05) will feature $2 hot dogs and $2 sodas at select concession stands (while supplies last), plus a post-game firework show. Friday at The Corn Crib is also Salute to Armed Forces Night as the CornBelters will recognize local military families and service members.

State Farm Saturday on May 12th is Star Wars Night at The Corn Crib as kids receive a lightsaber, while supplies last. Gates open at 6:05 p.m. with the first pitch set for 7:05 p.m.

May 13th is a Sunday Family Funday Mother’s Day special (gates open at 5:05 p.m. with first pitch at 6:05). Purchase a regular priced Reserved Box Seat ticket ($10 each) and receive a free ticket for Mom. Sundays are also Bark in the Park days at The Corn Crib, purchase a General Admission Lawn ticket ($5 each) for your furry friend and get one free.

OTTERS ADD ROOKIE OUTFIELDER

The Evansville Otters have signed outfielder John Kukura of Pace University to a 2018 contract.

A 2017 graduate, Kukura collected 205 hits in 166 games with Pace to finish fifth on the school’s all-time hits list.  The New York City native holds Pace’s career record with 11 triples, including a single-season mark of eight as a junior in 2016.  Kukura hit .341 with 33 RBIs and a .536 slugging percentage in 2016 to be named Pace’s Co-Male Athlete of the Year.

Kukura earned first-team all-Northeast Ten Conference accolades in 2016 and 2017 as well as back-to-back American Baseball Coaches Association All-Region honors.  He was also named to both the CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team and NE10 Academic All-Conference Team in 2016 and 2017.

The Otters will face the Washington Wild Things at Bosse Field on May 11 to open the 2018 Frontier League regular season.

CORNBELTERS ANNOUNCE OPENING WEEKEND PROMOTIONS

The Normal CornBelters, presented by Illinois Corn Farmers, have announced their opening weekend promotions for their 2018 season debut at The Corn Crib May 11-13 against the Traverse City Beach Bums.

CEFCU Opening Night on Friday, May 11th (gates open at 6:05 p.m. with first pitch at 7:05) will feature $2 hot dogs and $2 sodas at select concession stands (while supplies last), plus a post-game firework show. Friday at The Corn Crib is also Salute to Armed Forces Night as the CornBelters will recognize local military families and service members.

State Farm Saturday on May 12th is Star Wars Night at The Corn Crib as kids receive a lightsaber, while supplies last. Gates open at 6:05 p.m. with the first pitch set for 7:05 p.m.

May 13th is a Sunday Family Funday Mother’s Day special (gates open at 5:05 p.m. with first pitch at 6:05). Purchase a regular priced Reserved Box Seat ticket ($10 each) and receive a free ticket for Mom. Sundays are also Bark in the Park days at The Corn Crib, purchase a General Admission Lawn ticket ($5 each) for your furry friend and get one free.

NORMAL CORNBELTERS MISSION
It is our mission to be the number one summer sports entertainment choice in Illinois. We will achieve this by building trust with our fans and partners, providing professional baseball, superb customer service and a fun and affordable experience every time they come to the ballpark.

ABOUT THE CORNBELTERS
The Normal CornBelters are a professional baseball team of the Frontier League located in Normal, Illinois, which is part of the Bloomington-Normal metropolitan area. They play their home games at The Corn Crib. Tickets and Sponsorships are available for the 2018 season. For more information visit normalbaseball.com or call or text 309-454-2255. You can also follow the team on Facebook.

ABOUT THE FRONTIER LEAGUE
The Frontier League, based in Sauget, Illinois, is a professional, independent baseball organization located in the Midwestern United States consisting of 12 franchises in two divisions playing a 96-game regular season schedule. The league was formed in 1993, and is the oldest currently running independent league. For more information about the Frontier League visit frontierleague.com.

2017 ALL-STAR ZACH STRECKER RETURNING TO WASHINGTON

The Washington Wild Things announced the re-signing of their third 2017 Frontier League All Star as right-handed pitcher Zach Strecker will return to Washington in 2018. Strecker joins catcher Kyle Pollock and RHP Chase Cunningham as all stars to return to the team for next season, and is the seventh player overall to re-sign.
“Zach was an absolute workhorse for us last season and accepted the role as one of our core players. He has the perfect demeanor on the mound with the game on the line,” said general manager Steven Zavacky. “We appreciate his efforts to battle through some nagging ailments down the stretch solely to push this team to the playoffs. Competing is what he loves to do and I know he is focused on a championship season. We discussed exploring Zach’s versatility in 2018, so it will be interesting to see how his role gets defined.”
Strecker, a 2016 graduate of the University of Kentucky where he posted a 3.19 earned run average in 96 innings over four seasons, is a native of Louisville, Kentucky. The 24-year old was signed by the Minnesota Twins as an undrafted free agent in June of 2016. He’d go on to played at the rookie-ball level for the GCL Twins. He threw 33 innings and struck out 21 while allowing 12 earned runs.
Following his release from the Twins organization, Strecker was added by the Wild Things, where in 2017, the right-hander posted a 5-5 record with a 2.34 ERA in 61.2 innings, which was the fifth highest total on the team in 2017, and the highest total Strecker has pitched in a season since matriculating to college. His high at Kentucky was 30.1, while he pitched two seasons in summer collegiate leagues, where he threw 50.2 and 57 innings as a starter for the Valley Blue Sox and the Willmar Stingers, respectively.
The former Wildcat nailed down 20 saves for the Wild Things and struck out 40 batters to just 17 walks. He pitched a scoreless 8th inning in the Frontier League All Star Game in Joliet. His 20 saves were the third most in the league last season behind only Windy City’s Brian Loconsole (27) and Southern Illinois’ John Werner (22), who were both FL All Stars. His 43 appearances were the fourth most in the Frontier League in 2017.
“[Last year] was a fun year for the team and individually [for me],” said Strecker. “I feel that both had some ups and downs but that’s baseball and it’s a long season. As a team, we didn’t let the low points of the season keep us off track of what our ultimate goal was, although we came up short of winning [a championship]. As an individual, the 2017 season was by far my favorite I can think of and I attribute it to being able to relax and have fun on the mound.”
Strecker went on to say how excited he was to be returning to the Wild Things, citing the “good core” of players returning to the team, and emphasized he is sure the team will find a way to compete and “have fun doing it.” He also said he was very happy with the overall experience he had in Washington.
“Washington was a one-of-a-kind experience that I’ll always cherish,” said Strecker. “I was given another chance of playing baseball and there were a lot of personal and team successes that have formed memories for a lifetime. The main difference between Washington and playing in affiliated ball is the looseness and ability to relax and have fun. I lost sight of baseball being the game I grew up loving to play as a kid and the Wild Things allowed me to go back to who I was.”
With a laugh he added, “also we weren’t fined for ordering pizza.”
In terms of expectations for the 2018 season from both a team and personal standpoint, Strecker said he expects the team to compete for a championship in 2018, saying he thought his team was the “best team in the league top to bottom” in 2017. He also wants to build off a strong 2017 season on the mound.
“[I want to] contribute even more to the team, whether it’s on the mound or keeping guys loose and having fun to where they can perform at their highest ability as well,” said Strecker. “We’ve talked about the thoughts of me being a starter next season, which I’m all for. I also wouldn’t mind being the closer again. Getting the last out of games and slamming the door in your opponents face is always a fun way to end a game; dilly, dilly.”

CORNBELTERS ADOPT FAN FIRST PRICING MODEL

The CornBelters, presented by Illinois Corn Farmers, have announced new fan-friendly game ticket and concession pricing for the 2018 Frontier League season.

Single game tickets will start at only $5 each for General Admission Lawn, with Reserved Bleacher Seats (with seat backs) available for $8 and Reserved Box Seats for $10 (reduced by $2 from 2017).

Military personnel (active or retired), seniors (age 60 and over), and students will receive $2 off the single-game Reserved Box Seat rate by presenting their I.D. at the MICU Box Office at The Corn Crib.

Groups of twenty (20) or more will receive $2 off the single game rate for Reserved Box Seats ($8 each) and Reserved Bleacher Seats ($6 each).

All-new Mini-Plans are now available for the 2018 season, featuring three options that include nine (9) promotion packed weekend dates, CornBelters wearables, a 2018 bobblehead, parking pass, and additional benefits.

The CornBelters have also announced all-inclusive ticket and concession packages.

Big League Scout Seats make their return in 2018 and include a premium seat, plus access to an all-you-can-eat and drink (includes draft beer) service line from gates open through the fifth inning. Full-season (48 games) packages are currently on sale for only $31.25 per home game.

The all-new Kernel Club will make its debut and features a full-season Reserved Box Seat along with access to the all-you-can-eat and drink service line from gates open until first pitch (one hour). The package is currently on sale at a special promotional rate for a full-season at $10.42 per home game through the end of November (30% off the standard price).

The CornBelters have also updated their group and hospitality packages. New Luxury Suite packages include premium seating along with the option of a food and beverage package. Tailgate and Outdoor Suite packages are also available which include all-you-can-eat and drink service line access along with the game tickets.

Fans will also be able to enjoy new concession options in 2018, featuring a $1 bag of Beer Nuts, $2 soda, $2 bottle of water, $2 hot dog, $3 bag of popcorn, and a $4 jumbo hot dog. Additional game night promotions including food and beverage packages with game tickets will be announced in the near future.

WINTER WONDERLAND RETURNING TO RENT ONE PARK

The Southern Illinois Miners are pleased to announce that Winter Wonderland, sponsored by Aisin Manufacturing, will return to Rent One Park from Thursday, December 7th through Monday, December 11th, marking the second year of the winter fan event.

Fans and families can come to the ballpark for fun winter activities all weekend long. Friday, December 8th, the park will open at 6:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. with a spectacular fireworks show at 9:00 p.m.On Saturday, December 9th, the gates will open at 11:00 a.m. and will stay open until 9:00 p.m., with hours of 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 10th.

Entry to Winter Wonderland is $3 on Friday night and $2 on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at (618) 998-8499, or by visiting the Miners box office from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tickets can be bought in advance or on the day of the eventh, and are non-exchangeable, non-transferrable and non-refundable. Children under 2 years of age get in free, though activities fees still apply. ALL children (12 years and under) MUST be accompanied by a person age 16 or older.

Activities include carriage rides ($3 per rider), ice skating ($5, including skate rental), a 31 foot-high Giant Snowzilla Jr. slide ($3), a challenging snow maze ($3), Glow-In-The-Dark mini golf ($2 per golfer), snowball fights, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus (FREE), and more! Fans can purchase an All-Access wristband, which gives access to all activities, except carriage rides, for $14 on Fridaynight (a savings of $2) and $12 on Saturday (a savings of $3). Like last year, fans can enjoy activity tables and games, and fans can also send holiday letters to soldiers and veterans of the military. New this year, the Miners will be teaming up with various not-for-profits this holiday season, and will be hosting the popular Christmas Playhouse Village Fundraiser for CASA of Williamson County. The playhouses, constructed by local high school students, will be lovated on the concourse during Winter Wonderland, and fans can walk around the houses and purchase raffle tickets to win

Carriage rides will take place between 6:00 and 8:30 p.m. on Friday night, Noon to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, and 1:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday. Holiday treats, drinks and concession favorites will be available for purchase.

More details will be available soon on the Miners’ Facebook page and website.

“Aisin is proud to sponsor Winter Wonderland with the Southern Illinois Miners,” Aisin spokesperson Glenn Edwards said. “It will be a great community event and a fun, festive way to enjoy the holiday season with family and friends.”

Be sure to follow the Miners on Facebook, Twitter (@SIMiners), Instagram and Snapchat, and also online at southernillinoisminers.com as they prepare for the 2018 season at Rent One Park.

The Southern Illinois Miners are the Frontier League’s winningest franchise since debuting in 2007, winning the 2012 Frontier League Championship as well as division titles in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016. They have been awarded the Frontier League Organization of the Year award three times since their inception, and also set a new Frontier League attendance record in their inaugural season. For ticket information, contact the Rent One Park box office at (618) 998-8499. For any additional information, visit our website at www.southernillinoisminers.com.

BOOMERS SIGN MEYER, HARDY, & VIEITEZ

The Schaumburg Boomers have signed 1B Kewby Meyer, OF Clint Hardy, and RHP Ivan Vieitez to contracts for the 2018 season.

Meyer, 24, joins the Boomers after spending the 2017 season in the American Association playing 83 games with the Salina Stockade and 4 games with the Cleburne Railroaders where he batted .278 with 3 home runs and 17 doubles.

Meyer was drafted in the 37th round of the 2015 draft by the Tampa Bay Rays and spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons in the Rays organization.

Hardy, 22, comes to the Boomers after playing briefly in the Frontier League in 2017 with the Traverse City Beach Bums. Hardy played collegiately at Augusta University where he finished with a .372 career batting average, 4th all time for the Jaguars.

Vieitez, 24, comes to Schaumburg after starting the 2017 season in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization where he was a 27th round draft pick in 2015. Vieitez also played in the American Association last season, appearing in seven games out of the bullpen for the St. Paul Saints.

The Boomers 2018 season, presented by Wintrust Community Banks, begins May 11. The Home Opener is Tuesday, May 15 vs. Southern Illinois.

Fall Championship T-Shirt Package and Frosty Pack Holiday Packages available now online and at Boomers Stadium.  

Season ticket packages and group and hospitality offerings for the 2018 season can be reserved by calling (847) 461-3695 or emailing info@boomersbaseball.com. Single-game tickets will go on-sale Tuesday, April 2 at 10:00 AM.

WILD THINGS ADD FORMER LUBBOCK CHRISTIAN STAR CATCHER

After playing 46 games as a member of the Frontier League’s Gateway Grizzlies in 2017, catcher Chase Simmons was a part of a set of releases by Gateway this offseason. Today, the Washington Wild Things have announced the signing of the former Grizzlies backstop.

Simmons is a native of Kelso, Missouri, and is 23 years old. He played two seasons at Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Missouri, before heading to Lubbock Christian University, where he played collegiately for two seasons in 2016 and 2017. In 2016, Simmons drove in 13 runs and had six extra-base hits of his 28 hits in 115 plate appearances. In 2017, he hit .314, with 54 hits (14 extra-base) in 172 at bats, and drove in 29 runs, while sporting an OBP of .389.

As solid as his bat was at Lubbock Christian, Simmons was good defensively as well, as he threw out 26 would-be base stealers over the course of the two seasons. In 2017, Simmons was awarded an ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove award as the NCAA Division II Gold Glove Catcher when the American Baseball Coaches Association and Rawlings Sporting Goods released the defensive awards in the nine divisions of amateur baseball.

As a member of the Grizzlies, Simmons threw out 28% of runners. He made just two errors. At the plate, Simmons had 10 extra-base hits and 11 RBI in 180 plate appearances. His on-base percentage was .326.

“We were fortunate to have the best catching duo in 2017 and the depth of catching was something we had to address moving forward. The battle between Chase and Carson [Waln] for the backup spot should be one of the most fun to watch,” said general manager Steven Zavacky. “Chase played very well in his first year of professional baseball, he’s a strong kid at the plate and holds a high defensive standard internally. The most impressive thing about Chase to us was his competitiveness. We outlined that we have an all-star catcher returning and we were looking for someone to fight for a backup job. Without hesitation, Chase accepted the challenge.”

For Simmons, it’s an opportunity to continue playing professional baseball. He said he is excited and that his first experience in pro ball was memorable with Gateway.

“[My] first pro-ball experience with Gateway was unbelievable,” said Simmons. “[The] fans were awesome, my teammates were great, and I’m thankful that Gateway gave me the opportunity to play professional baseball. [It was a] dream come true and I wish them nothing by the best, but [I’m] looking forward to this new beginning.”

On signing with the Wild Things organization, Simmons said he is excited to join a winner.

“I’m very excited to sign with this organization,” said Simmons. “They won last year and will continue to do that. Just being a part of a winning team will be fun and I’m excited to learn day in and day out from these guys and try to help them win any way possible. This was a no brainer for me when they called me. I’m very excited to get going with this group.”

Simmons continued by saying he is looking forward to meeting his new teammates and interacting with the Wild Things fans. As for what his expectations are, he said he’s keeping it somewhat simple.

“[My expectations are] to come in and learn and try to help this team win any way possible,” said Simmons. “Whatever I have to do to help this team win is what I’m going to do. [Some of my personal goals involve] just trying to keep improving my game each year. I have some written down and will continue to strive for those but in the meantime, it all comes down to winning.”

According to Simmons, he’s just a kid that loves to compete and loves the game of baseball.

“You’re going to get my best day in and day out,” said Simmons. Off the field, I’m easy going and I’m just a normal person. I love watching moves, sports, playing video games and doing what every person likes to do. I’m excited to get going and meet the fans and pursue, [on the field], the goal of bringing a championship to this organization and fan base.”

HURLERS ADKINS, BRADLEY RETURNING TO WASHINGTON

The Washington Wild Things announced the return of pitchers David Adkins and Trevor Bradley for the 2018 season. Adkins played in Washington in 2017 after spending 2016 with the Florence Freedom.  Bradley, who turned 25 yesterday, was signed during the season in 2017 and made 21 appearances, three of which were starts, for Washington after signing.

Adkins, who will be 24 by the outset of the 2018 season, will play his third season of pro ball after graduating from Georgia Gwinett College. As a college baseball pitcher, Adkins was 19-1 over the course of 56 outings. He enjoyed his best collegiate season in 2016 at GGC, by going 14-0 with 101 strikeouts and a 1.88 earned run average in 95 innings.

In 2016, Adkins was shut down in mid-August and released from the Freedom roster, where he struck out 51 batters in 53.1 innings in his first taste of pro ball. In 2017 with Washington, Adkins was 5-1 with a save in 39 appearances. He sported a 3.38 ERA in 50.2 innings, while allowing 36 hits and 21 runs (19 earned). He struck out 50 and walked 25.

“Davis pitched at an All-Star level 95% of the season. We saw flashes of greatness when he pitched for Florence in 2016, and we knew in a stable situation he could dominate here in Washington,” said general manager Steven Zavacky. “He embraced the challenge of pressure situations and dominated right-handed hitters better than almost anyone in the Frontier League. We look forward to see the next step Davis takes with his offseason development.”

Adkins is looking for more success both from a team and personal standpoint.

“We had a very good year last year,” said Adkins. “I was so blessed to be a part of the playoff run we made. Hopefully we can do the same thing again this year.”

He added, “I’m hoping to have a better year this year than I did last year, and hopefully we can bring a championship back to Washington this season. We have the best staff and coaches in the league.”

​​Adkins also thinks his role from a knowledge standpoint may change a bit, being that this will be his third season in the Frontier League.

“For the new guys coming in, you cannot dwell on one outing or performance,” said Adkins. “We have a 96-game regular season. You’re going to hit some rough spots; you just have to push through them.”

Trevor Bradley, a Lexington, South Carolina, native, signed with the Wild Things fresh off finishing up his collegiate career at Georgia Gwinett College, where in 2016, he was 6-0 with 52 strikeouts, 10 walks and a 1.91 earned run average. He also set the single-game strikeout record at GGC with 12 that season before almost doubling his inning total in 2017. Bradley was 8-4 in 83 innings his senior year with a 3.14 ERA.

Once arriving in Washington, Bradley made an almost immediate impact, showing versatility to start as well as come out of the bullpen, and was a bit more effective in the latter role. In total, Bradley was 2-3 with a 3.60 ERA in 40 innings. He nailed down a save, and allowed just 16 earned runs in his innings, with 35 strikeouts and 21 walks.

“As a two-way player in college, Trevor brought a lot of natural competitiveness to our pitching staff,” said Wild Things’ general manager Steven Zavacky. “He showed spurts of dominance and made quality strides in his first season of professional baseball. We’ve asked Trevor to prepare for a bigger role out of our bullpen in 2018. It is important his development stays on schedule and he grows into a stabilizing force to bridge innings.”

Familiarity was a big help for Bradley when he got to Washington. He had played at Georgia Gwinett for a season with Wild Things’ right-hander Davis Adkins, as well as had a common ground with former Wild Things’ catcher John Fidanza, who finished up school at GGC after Bradley got there. He said it helped as he adjusted to his first season in professional baseball.

“I had so many guys last year that really helped me get through the season, and having a few players on the team that I played with in past years really helped me out,” said Bradley, citing playing with Fidanza, Adkins and former Wild Things’ RHP Jacob Condra-Bogan. “The competition was a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be.”

Even with that in mind, Bradley said he is excited to make progress in 2018, and looks for improvement to be more an impact on a potential 2018 playoff run.

“I’m very excited for this coming season. We played really well last year as a team. It’s an exciting team and I’m looking forward to playing with these guys for a second season,” said Bradley. “I’m looking to improve my game this season and I want to perform at a really high level so I can make an impact on this team.”

​As for team expectations, Bradley acknowledged he and the team will want to win a Frontier League title, but he has some personal goals as well.

“[I want to be] someone my coach and teammates want in the game and make the all-star team.”

He added, “I think we have the best front office and the best coach in the Frontier League for sure. We wouldn’t have went as far as we did without them and the moves they mad last year.”

NEW FOR 2018 FLORENCE ANNOUNCES FREEDOM PASS

The Florence Freedom are unveiling a brand new pass concept for the 2018 season. For just $100, fans can purchase a Freedom Pass which includes one ticket to every single 2018 regular season game. That’s less than $3 per ticket.

The Freedom Passes work similar to other amusement park season passes. It’s good for one admission to each regular season game good for a section 114, 115 or lawn ticket (based on availability).

A feature of the Freedom Pass fans (especially businesses) will like is the pass is 100% transferable. So different fans can attend games throughout the season.

How it works:

Freedom Passes are presented at the box office on the day of the game. The corresponding game is then crossed off on the back of the pass and a ticket to that game is given. The best available seating option in the sections mentioned above will be presented as options to the fan.

Seating Sections:

Sections 114 and 115 are located just past 3rd base at UC Health Stadium and provide an excellent view of the field. Lawn sections are located adjacent to left and right field. (click here for stadium diagram)

The Florence Freedom are members of the independent Frontier League and play all home games at UC Health Stadium located at 7950 Freedom Way in Florence, KY. The Freedom can be found online at FlorenceFreedom.com, or by phone at 859-594-4487.

CORNBELTERS RE-SIGN JUSTIN FLETCHER FOR 2018

The Normal CornBelters, presented by Illinois Corn Farmers, have re-signed infielder Justin Fletcher for the 2018 Frontier League Season.

Fletcher (5-11, 185, Northern Illinois), a native of Pekin, Illinois, rejoins the CornBelters for his third season as a member of the Frontier League. In 2017, Justin ranked 11th in the league with a .319 batting average on 340 plate appearances and tied for ninth with 108 hits.

“Justin’s story is a prime example of what hard work and determination can do. He came to spring training knowing he had to earn a spot on the roster and he did just that and more,” said CornBelters Manager Brooks Carey. “We are thrilled to have him back in 2018, and I’m sure his hometown of Pekin is too!”

In his first season in Normal in 2016, Justin served as the primary backup to All-Star second baseman Santiago Chirino. When injuries forced Carey to make adjustments to the infield, Fletcher earned a starting role as Chrinio shifted to shortstop. Justin went on to play in a total of 43 games in his rookie season and recorded a .236 batting average with 7 RBI and 8 SB on 172 plate appearances. Before joining the CornBelters, he played the 2015 season for the Kalamazoo Growlers of the Northwoods League where he played in 69 contests and hit .252 with 3 HR, 35 RBI, and 15 SB.

Justin played college baseball at Illinois Central College for one season (2013) and Northern Illinois University for three seasons (2014-2016). Over the course of his collegiate career, he hit .286/.351/.382 with 4 HR, 121 RBI, and 32 SB. He was born March 24, 1994.

During the off-season, Justin offers private lessons at Fletcher’s Hitting Center in his hometown of Pekin, Illinois. The center features three batting cages and pitching machine that can be used for both baseball and softball players. Private lessons in hitting, fielding, and pitching are available, as well as rental opportunities of the batting cages. For more information, contact Justin directly at (309) 696-5323 or visit the Fletcher’s Hitting Center Facebook Page.

ALL-STAR CATCHER KYLE POLLOCK RETURNING TO WASHINGTON

When the 2018 season begins, the Washington Wild Things will now have two players beginning their third seasons with the team: RHP Chase Cunningham and catcher Kyle Pollock. The latter re-signed with the team on Tuesday. Pollock is also the first position player to re-up with the Wild Things.

Pollock was drafted in the 20th round of the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft by the Kansas City Royals out of the University of Evansville. He spent two seasons with the Royals’ organization, before being released and finding a home in Washington, Pennsylvania, with the Wild Things.

Pollock was a big part of the last two teams, as the starting catcher, and earned his way on to the 2017 Frontier League All-Star team last season. After hitting .214 with a .308 OBP in 2016, and throwing out 15 of 55 potential base-stealers that season, Pollock turned it up a notch, and hit .255 with a .362 OBP and .827 OPS in 2017. The Westerville Central High School grad launched 11 home runs and drove in 41 runs offensively, and added 16 doubles and a triple. Behind the dish, Pollock remained one of the better defensive catchers in the league, and threw out 29% of runners attempting to steal.

“Quality catching is very hard to find and we believe we have best in the Frontier League here in Washington. Kyle greatly deserved the honor of being an All-Star in 2017, pairing his defensive abilities to limit the running game with the offensive fireworks we expected when we signed him,” said Wild Things’ general manager Steven Zavacky. “He takes a lot of pride in developing young pitchers and he has a great relationship with our manager Gregg Langbehn. We are excited to announce Kyle’s return for 2018 and look forward to seeing his family at the ballpark throughout the summer.”

The returning catcher said he didn’t really have second thoughts about coming back to the team for a third season.

“I’m stoked. I love the staff, the team and the front office crew,” said Pollock. “I had a blast the last two seasons… Personally I am looking forward to making another run at a playoff berth. I know a lot of guys are coming back as well and I think that will be a tremendous positive for the team atmosphere because it was the best group of guys I have ever played with in my professional career.”

As for what his role may change to being in his third year with the team and in the Frontier League, Pollock is looking forward to a few things.

“I think as a player gets older their role evolves into more of a [role of being a] mentor and [setting an] example to the new guys,” said Pollock. “There are some bittersweet feelings, based on my experience, from being released from an affiliated program, which I think I can help some players deal with. All of the guys who were there to talk to when I arrived in Washington are no longer here, so I feel as though it is a good role to inherit.”

He continued, “After being in the league for a couple of seasons there are a few strategies that differ from affiliated ball along with the freedom you don’t have in the MiLB system as well, which I think I could articulate to new players.”

From a goals standpoint, Pollock isn’t satisfied with the team’s success in 2017. He wants more.

“I’ll keep this short and sweet; I want to win the whole think next year,” said Pollock. “We had a great run last year and fell short, but since most of the guys are returning it will be a huge plus considering we all know how to overcome those shortfalls. Personally, I want to help the pitching staff more this season with some of the things I learned from the past season regarding approach and mentality on the mound.”

He thinks the tools for success are already present, saying this opportunity is one he’s “truly blessed to have stumbled into.”

“I know the manager has a very effective way of managing that most players do not get to see in affiliated and college programs,” said Pollock. “Our director of team operations does a phenomenal job of recruiting quality baseball players who do a great job both on and off the field.”

“Banger [manager Gregg Langbehn] gives us freedom as baseball players, that I can safely say, no other organization gives their players, which allows us to play loose and free.”

Along with Pollock, left-handed pitcher Jake Eaton was officially re-signed to a contract for the 2018 campaign.

Eaton, originally acquired in late July in a trade with the Salina Stockade of the American Association (a Pecos League team traveling and playing an AA schedule in 2017), made 12 appearances for the Wild Things in 2017, spanning 20.1 innings.

“Jake was one of the best finds for us during the 2017 season. Being on the travel team in the American Association took a toll on him physically,” said Wild Things general manager Steven Zavacky. “We were happy to see how he embraced his role in Washington and how he responded to the pressure of our heated playoff race. Jake will be a vital piece of our success in 2018, working inning situations, and we look forward to seeing his continual growth.”

Eaton will be looking to build off a successful start to his Wild Thing career. In the aforementioned 20.1 innings, the LaPorte, Indiana, native allowed just 16 hits and nine runs (five earned) with seven walks and 23 strikeouts. He was 1-0 with a save and a 2.21 earned run average.

The Anderson University grad said he’s looking to do even more good things with the team in 2018.

“Personally, I hope to just continue improving as a pitcher and contributing to the success of the team,” said Eaton. “Last year I was very comfortable in my role out of the bullpen, and I felt like I was pretty flexible for us We’ve talked about the possibility of starting, but during spring training I’ll be willing to try out any role Banger [Field Manager Gregg Langbehn] asks of me.”

Eaton said he enjoyed his first taste of Washington, citing some differences and a “different atmosphere” than what he was accustomed to with the Stockade prior to his arrival in Washington.

“Everyone associated with the team was excited for pushing into the postseason, and it was great being a part of a successful team [in 2017],” said Eaton. “The biggest difference personally was having a training room and a great trainer in Brittany Miller. I was able to receive crucial treatment that I hadn’t had on my prior teams, helping me feel like I was at my absolute best in my outings with Washington.”

He said he’s also excited, not only to be back, but to push for even more as a team than the playoff berth in 2017.

“I expect a couple team expectations to be taking the top seed in the regular season and winning the Frontier League Championship,” said Eaton.

Pollock and Eaton join right-handed pitcher Chase Cunningham and left-handed pitcher Frank Trimarco as players from the 2017 team to re-up their deals, and more will be coming in and released over the next few weeks, as the 2018 roster starts to take shape. For all of the news on roster moves, check out the “news” tab on www.washingtonwildthings.com and all of our social media platforms.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS SIGN WINDY CITY’S ZACK JONES

Zack Jones became the latest member of the Windy City ThunderBolts to be signed by a Major League organization when his contract was purchased this week by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Jones spent the 2017 season with the ThunderBolts and appeared in 13 games. He hit .250 with a .455 on-base percentage, two home runs and five RBIs. After signing with the ThunderBolts on July 3, his first professional hit was a home run against the Normal CornBelters on July 23. He ended up with at least one hit in four of his first five games played. His final hit with the Bolts was his second home run, coming in the final game of the season, a 6-5 win over Schaumburg.

A local product out of Park Ridge and Maine South High School, Jones joined the Bolts out of Trinity Christian College, where he batted .357 as a senior this spring. He also saved five games as the closer on the Trolls’ pitching staff.

Jones is the fifth member of the 2017 ThunderBolts, and first position player, to get signed by a big league organization. He joins Brady Muller as former ThunderBolts who signed with the Diamondbacks in 2017. Five players is more than any other Frontier League team this year and the most for any ThunderBolts team since 2012.

Your Windy City ThunderBolts open up the 2018 season against the River City Rascals at Standard Bank Stadium on Thursday, May 10th!  We will have $1.50 beer all game long!  Also remember that the ThunderBolts have added Fireworks to every Friday and Saturday game in 2018!  Group tickets of all kind including our Executive Suites, All-You-Can-Eat Picnics, and our popular #WinCity Party Patio are on-sale now!  For more information call us at 708-489-2255.  A printable version of our 2018 schedule can be found HERE

JOSH LUDY RETURNING AS RASCALS’ HITTING COACH

As a new Rascals season approaches, changes on the roster follow. The 2018 roster will feature many returning players – including one that fans were not expecting. Josh Ludy, former Frontier League All-Star catcher, will serve as the new Rascals’ Hitting Coach during the 2018 season alongside manager Steve Brook and assistant coach Alex Ferguson.

Ludy has been the catcher for the Rascals for the past four seasons and has since proven his capabilities as a player and more importantly, as a team leader. Ludy helped guide the Rascals to two Frontier League Championships in 2014, with a batting average of .362, 16 homeruns, and 50 RBI’s, and in 2015 with 15 homeruns and 56 RBI’s. Ludy ended his final season of Frontier League eligibility with a .288 batting average, 7 homeruns, and 49 RBI’s.

Josh started his playing career with Baylor University of the Big 12. His last season with the Bears was highlighted with a .362 batting average, 16 homeruns, and 71 RBI’s. In 2012, Ludy was drafted in the 8th round (278th overall) by the Philadelphia Phillies, whom he played for for three seasons, ending with a batting average of .255, 2 homeruns, and 20 RBI’s. Ludy was signed by the Oakland Athletics during the 2014.