Archive for Thursday, June 14, 2007

Kinney spreads wings with summer position

June 14, 2007

After the long grind of the high school baseball season, most coaches might want to take a little time to step away from the diamond. Eudora High School baseball coach Dirk Kinney is not one of those coaches.

Kinney is currently working as an assistant coach for the FCA Grays, a team that plays in the M.I.N.K. Baseball League. The league features seven teams located in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, made up of college players intent on honing their hitting and pitching in the offseason.

"Our main goal is to make these players better," Kinney said. "The environment is similar to high school but we can focus a little more on skill development."

The Grays are affiliated with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and play their home games at William Jewell College, in Liberty, Mo. The team, originally formed in 2005, drew inspiration from the famous Homestead Grays of the Negro Leagues in choosing a name.

Scanning the Grays' roster is like taking a road trip across the nation: there are players from Colorado, Alabama and around the Midwest. Team members hail from 19 colleges of all different varieties. Pitcher Michael Bell plays at Barton County Community College in Kansas, and first baseman Chris Feicht is from Azusa Pacific University in California.

"It's just an adventure," Kinney said. "We've got kids from everywhere. It's a really good mix of (NCAA) Division 1 and Division 2 guys."

The team certainly keeps busy for the duration of the summer. The regular season stretches from June 2 to July 21. In those two months, the Grays have 37 games scheduled. After the regular season, the team will head to Clarinda, Iowa, for the National Baseball Congress Midwest Regional Tournament and possibly the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita.

The hectic schedule has not posed a problem for the Grays so far. On road trips to Springfield, Mo., and Clarinda, Iowa, the team has posted a 3-2 record. A high-powered offense has carried the team to their winning record despite the team's 6.97 earned run average.

The Grays will next play in Kansas for a July 8 game against the Topeka Golden Giants, to be played at Washburn University's Falley Field.

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