Sporting KC visits Vancouver tonight

A pair of Western Conference clubs will lock horns for the second time this season as Sporting Kansas City (5-7-7, 22 points) ventures northwest to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC (4-8-8, 20 points) on Saturday night at BC Place.

Kickoff is slated for 9 p.m. with three hours of live coverage beginning at 8:30 p.m. on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus and FOX Sports GO. The game will also be joined in progress on the main FOX Sports Kansas City channel upon the conclusion of Kansas City Royals baseball. Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM will carry local radio broadcasts, while fans can access the Sporting KC App for additional in-game updates.

Currently occupying 10th place in the Western Conference table, Sporting secured a vital 1-0 home win over the Chicago Fire last weekend thanks to an early goal from Frenchman Yohan Croizet.

Manager Peter Vermes’ side dominated from start to finish en route to the club’s third MLS shutout of 2019, also giving Tim Melia his 57th regular season goalkeeping win to tie Jimmy Nielsen for the most in team history.

The victory against Chicago saw the likes of Johnny Russell and Graham Zusi return to the field after missing time through injury.

Indeed, ailments to numerous players have plagued Sporting throughout the 2019 campaign, but the club enters Saturday with just four names on the injury report. Influential midfielder Roger Espinoza (knee) and forward Erik Hurtado (knee) have been upgraded to questionable, while Jaylin Lindsey (knee) remains out alongside Rodney Wallace (hip), who will miss the rest of the season.

On the opposite sideline, Vancouver will be just three days removed from a scoreless draw at Canadian Premier League outfit Cavalry FC in the first leg of the Canadian Championship third qualifying round.

First-year Vancouver head coach Marc Dos Santos-who previously led the Swope Park Rangers to a USL Western Conference championship in 2016-fielded a full-strength lineup for the match, sticking to his pre-game declarations of treating the domestic cup competition with high priority.

Dos Santos helped Vancouver navigate the springtime successfully, as his team went 4-2-3 from April 17 to May 25. Whitecaps FC have hit a rough patch since then, taking just three points and zero wins from their last five league fixtures.

Last Saturday marked a low point as Supporters’ Shield leaders LAFC put Vancouver to the sword with a 6-1 thrashing at Banc of California Stadium. Talented playmaker Yordy Reyna bagged the visitors’ lone goal of the game, his fourth tally in 2019, to move within two goals of team scoring leader Fredy Montero.

Sporting and Vancouver previously met on May 18 at Children’s Mercy Park. Krisztian Nemeth-currently tied for the Sporting lead alongside Russell and Felipe Gutierrez with seven MLS goals-fired the hosts ahead in the 37th minute with a close-range finish that remains his most recent goal in 2019.

The Hungarian was sent off early in the second half for a red card offense, however, and Whitecaps FC salvaged an unlikely equalizer in the 94th minute courtesy of defender Derek Cornelius.

History nevertheless paints a positive picture for Sporting, who own a 3-2-2 record at Vancouver and an 8-3-4 mark in the all-time regular season series. Moreover, Sporting’s 29 regular season wins versus Canadian opposition are the most among American MLS teams.

Vermes’ men last visited BC Place in October 2018, erasing a 1-0 halftime deficit behind a brilliant Croizet strike, a Daniel Salloi brace and a stoppage time tally from Gianluca Busio, who in that match became the second-youngest scorer in MLS history at 16 years old.

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Collier, Mars lead T-Bones over Texas

The Kansas City T-Bones started another three-game home series with the Texas AirHogs, winning game one 8-2.

The AirHogs came close to scoring in the top of the third, starting with a single by Cao Jie.

Then, a walk by Li Ning advanced Jie to second base. Later, a single by Luo Jinjun advanced Ning to second and Jie to third, but it wasn’t enough to score.

Kansas City got on the board first with a double to left field by Mason Davis. Then a single by Danny Mars scored Davis, making it 1-0 in the bottom of the third.

The score remained tied, 1-1, in the top of the fourth when Chen Junpeng advanced to first on an error by the second baseman, Dylan Tice, which advanced Xiao to home for the Texas AirHogs.

The T-Bones broke the tie when Daniel Nava hit a sacrifice fly to left field, getting out, but it was enough to score Chris Colabello, making it 2-1, in the bottom if the fourth.

KC’s Mason Davis definitely put on a show in the bottom of the fifth when he hit a single and then advanced to second on a stolen base. After Davis advanced to third on an error by the catcher, Li Xuhong, Mars hit a single, scoring Davis and making it 3-1.

Texas started off the top of the sixth with a home run by Erik Manoah, making the score 3-2.

Later, in the bottom of the eighth, the T-Bones furthered their lead 8-2, first with a single by Mars that scored Taylor Sparks.

Then, Dylan Tice advanced to first on a dropped third strike by Xuhong, which scored Davis. Then Shawn O’Malley hit a single that scored Mars. And finally, Gillaspie hit a single, scoring both Tice and O’Malley.

Winning pitcher Tommy Collier (6-3) for the Kansas City T-Bones notched another quality start, and the losing pitcher was Kevin Hilton (2-6) for the Texas AirHogs.

You can catch game two of the series between the Kansas City T-Bones and the Texas AirHogs at 7:05 p.m. Saturday, July 13. The game will air on the T-Bones Broadcast Network, http://mixlr.com/t-bones-baseball/.

Half-season 2019 ticket packages as well as mini plans are on sale online or by calling 913-328-5618 or by visiting the Saint Luke’s Box Office between the hours of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Group ticket sales are also on sale now.

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KCKCC softball two-time Academic All-American team

With a 3.46 grade point average, the KCKCC softball team earned two Academic All-American designations for 2018-19, Team members are front row, from left, Jennica Messer, Brittney Beck, Hannah Redick, Shaylun Grosstephan, Mackenzie Pinkerton, Alexis Rymer and Kaylee Arnzen; second row, head coach Lana Ross, Devin Purcel, Parish Forshey, Gracie Gentry, Britney Smith, Faith Maslak, Alaina Howe, trainer Kinsey Huwaldt and assistant coach Jenn Strohman. (KCKCC photo by Alan Hoskins)

by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC

Kansas City Kansas Community College’s softball team made a sweep of Academic All-American team honors this past spring – which should come as no surprise.

In 15 years of college coaching, teams coached by Lana Ross have achieved Academic All-American honors every year – 13 years at Iowa Western and one year each at Fort Scott and KCKCC.

Designated an Academic Team of the Year by the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association), the Blue Devil program ranked No. 23 among 135 teams academically. With a grade point average of 3.46, the Blue Devils were also recognized nationally as an Academic All-American team by the NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches Association).

Seven Blue Devils earned NJCAA Academic All-American honors including five on the first team with 4.00 grade point averages – three sophomores, Kaylee Arnzen, first baseman from Pampa, Texas; Gracie Gentry, infielder from Turner; and Britney Smith, second baseman from Basehor-Linwood; and two freshmen, shortstop Hannah Redick of Shawnee Mission North; and pitcher Shaylun Grosstephan of Girard, Kansas.

Devin Purcell, a freshman outfielder from Eudora, was named to the second team with a 3.90 GPA; and Alexis Rymer, a freshman outfielder from Piper, was named to the third team with a 3.72 GPA.

All seven were also recognized as NFCA All-American Scholar Athletes along with Brittney Beck a sophomore catcher who graduated from Ellinwood High School in Bushton, Kansas.

“Our team goal is to have every athlete with a 3.00 GPA or better,” Ross said. “Basically, that’s the minimum, we strive for 3.5. I tell our players they are not doing it for me, they are doing it for themselves; that it will affect their future and is always going to be important.”

Study hall begins the second week of classes.

“No exceptions; miss study hall and they don’t practice and they don’t play,” Ross said.

The number of study hours required each week depends on an athlete’s grade point average.

“I make grade checks every three weeks to see if our players are on track,” Ross said. “If someone’s in trouble and needs help academically, we get a tutor or whatever they need.”

The challenge of Ross and assistant Jenn Strohman will increase in 2019-2020. In addition to seven holdovers from this year’s team, they’ll have 15 incoming freshmen.