News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local Interest

January 24, 2012

Heftier home schedule awaits Rex fans

TERRE HAUTE — Terre Haute Rex fans will get to see their favorite baseball team play two additional home games this year — and it will be a championship team they’re watching.

That’s what general manager Roland Shelton said Monday morning at Clabber Girl, anyway, as he introduced manager Brian Dorsett during a press conference announcing the 2012 schedule.

Prospect League baseball has been expanded from 56 games to 60 for the 2012 season, and all 60 of those games will be within the West Division. Trips to West Virginia or Pennsylvania will have to wait until the playoffs — and may not be necessary at all if the Rex achieve the league’s best regular-season record and thus home-field advantage.

“It’s going to be exciting,” Shelton said, “because Brian’s going to win a championship.”

The Rex came close last year, recovering from a 2-7 start to earn a postseason berth with a sizzling second half. They lost a one-game playoff at Quincy — a win would have enabled the Rex to host the championship game — and the Gems went on to win the title.

Terre Haute had the edge over Quincy in regular-season play a year ago, and the same thing this year would be advisable. With the new schedule, the Rex play each of their five division rivals — Quincy, Springfield, Hannibal, Dubois County and Danville — 12 times each. Two West Division teams from a year ago, Nashville and DeKalb County, are not fielding teams in 2012.

Playing all regular-season games within the division will be both cost-effective and produce rivalries that fans can look forward to, Shelton said.

The team enters the 2012 team with “Great Rexpectations,” as media handouts indicated Monday, but — as is almost always the case — nearly a totally new roster.

Dorsett, who enters his third season as manager as enthusiastic as he’s always been — even though, Shelton joked Monday, “he has another business on the side” — is ready for the season to start.

“We’ve been blessed with great kids,” Dorsett said Monday. “When we’re talking to coaches [about prospective members of the Rex] we always ask ‘who’s a quality guy?’ first and foremost.”

A pair of two-year Rex members will be missing this season from the four-player Indiana State contingent that’s limited by league rules. Koby Kraemer — “last year’s MVP of the league,” Dorsett feels — will be moving to a league in Carolina and Brandon Dorsett will be without college eligibility after the ISU season ends.

This year’s Sycamores, as of now, are Terre Haute South graduate Jacob Hayes, who played for the Rex last season as an Ohio State player but has since transferred; pitcher Ryan Torgerson; outfielder Casey McCurdy; and at the current time, West Vigo graduate Jeremy Lucas. Dorsett isn’t optimistic about getting a chance to coach the Sycamore catcher, however, fearing the major league draft will snap him up (a situation that could keep Kraemer out of the Carolina summer league too, Dorsett indicated).

A few other familiar names for Rex fans who are expected back are outfielders Nick Johnson and Chris Roglen and pitcher Daniel Heefner, a mid-season find a year ago who was a big factor in the team’s second-half push. Slugger Jace Morgan, who played for the Rex in 2010, is another possibility.

“Our team is in place,” Dorsett said Monday, “but you have to remember we also lost seven players last year before the season even started.”

Assembling the team is also a tricky situation, the manager noted, for a couple of reasons: some coaches don’t want their players in the same league two years in a row (to get them exposure in other areas of the country), and players from the best college teams could be involved in postseason play during the first month of the Rex campaign.

Mark Edwards, the team’s public address announcer who also assists with promotions, pointed out that attendance was up last season from 2010, that season-ticket sales were even higher for this year, and that prospective host families for the players are always being sought. Shelton promised even more improvements in the Kid Zone and in ballpark entertainment.

Home opener is May 31 against Quincy at Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium.

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