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Archive for Monday, August 18, 2003

Undefeated Wattleneck kicks competition

August 18, 2003

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David and Goliath. Chiefs and Raiders. Red Sox and Yankees.

Sunday night in South Park it was Rudy's Pizzeria and Wattleneck.

And by the end of the night, Wattleneck had squeezed out a 9-8 victory in the first Kaw Valley Kickball League championship. At least 300 fans, many sipping water, sodas and beers, looked on, perhaps wondering if kickball cards would be next.

"It was the best game of the year," an elated Wattleneck manager, Caleb Skulskie, said, summing up the fledgling kickball league's second year of existence after a 15-week season.

"I'm ready to play again," said Skulskie, whose team consisted of employees from The Bottleneck and Wa Restaurant.

Scott Edwards, Rudy's team manager, also was ready to go again.

"We're all head and heart," Edwards said of his team. "It was a great game."

Natalie Winn, a Rudy's player and creator of the kickball phenomenon in Lawrence, couldn't believe the size of the crowd gathered in the northwest corner of the park's west section.

"I'm amazed," she said.

Caleb Skulskie, center, captain of Wattleneck, is doused with water
from an ice chest after his team defeated Rudy's Pizzeria 9-8 in
the Kaw Valley Kickball League's championship game. Celebrating
Sunday in South Park are, from left, teammates Seth Martin,
Jonathon Thompson, Skulskie and Noah Martin. Nolan Washatka, a
member of The Pig team, is dumping the water. Skulskie was on the
phone to a former teammate in Alabama.

Caleb Skulskie, center, captain of Wattleneck, is doused with water from an ice chest after his team defeated Rudy's Pizzeria 9-8 in the Kaw Valley Kickball League's championship game. Celebrating Sunday in South Park are, from left, teammates Seth Martin, Jonathon Thompson, Skulskie and Noah Martin. Nolan Washatka, a member of The Pig team, is dumping the water. Skulskie was on the phone to a former teammate in Alabama.

So were some of those who were in the crowd.

"I've never seen anything like it," said an amused Aaron Cole, 26, who recently moved to Lawrence from Tampa, Fla. He said he'd never seen kickball in Florida.

"I'm rooting for Wattleneck because I hang out a lot at the Bottleneck," Cole said.



Misty Roberts, 26, Lawrence, was watching her first kickball game and cheering for Wattleneck.

"I'm a kickball virgin," she said.

LeeAnn Taylor and Jeff Covitz high-five each other after Covitz
kicked a home run in the top of the fourth inning to give Rudy's
Pizzeria a 5-3 lead in the kickball championship game in South
Park.

LeeAnn Taylor and Jeff Covitz high-five each other after Covitz kicked a home run in the top of the fourth inning to give Rudy's Pizzeria a 5-3 lead in the kickball championship game in South Park.

Fans watched the game while standing, sitting in lawn chairs or sitting on the hard ground. Some brought their dogs and their babies.

Although it was obvious that kickball had some similarities to baseball, some onlookers didn't have a clue as to what was going on. When a reporter asked several people in one area if they knew the score or the inning, they looked at each other, laughed and shrugged.

Kyle Batten, 24, was pulling for Rudy's.

"I've got a lot of friends who work there," he said. "They don't have a lot of athletes, but they play with their hearts. They play with the most girls."

Batten played on Louise's Downtown/Eighth Street Tap Room kickball team during the season. His team played in the consolation final earlier Sunday.

A Rudy's Pizzeria fan carries a sign of support for her kickball
team during the championship game in South Park. The Wattleneck
team defeated Rudy's 9-8 in Sunday's game.

A Rudy's Pizzeria fan carries a sign of support for her kickball team during the championship game in South Park. The Wattleneck team defeated Rudy's 9-8 in Sunday's game.

Batten decided to make the most out of not getting to play in the championship game. He was selling hot dogs.

"I just sold a whole bunch of them," he said. "I figured I ought to get something out of this game since I can't play in it.

The kickball league's season began in April with 20 teams.

Josh Martin, who played on the Wattleneck team, said he wasn't surprised at how popular the kickball league became this year.

"This is good clean fun," he said. "This is a great way for a family to spend a Sunday evening in the park.

Martin should know. He played with his brothers, Seth, Gabe and Noah, all on the Wattleneck team. Their mother, Jan Martin, came to the games and was watching again Sunday.

"It's been fun to watch them all play," Jan Martin said.

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