June 22 was an active night at the Shawnee County Amateur Baseball Assn. fields.
There was a hot air balloon taking off, jet skiing people on neighboring Lake Shawnee, and the University Bank 88s taking on the Topeka Stars in a SCABA league game.
The 88s had a postgame celebration for two of their players' birthdays and a win, defeating the Stars, 13-2.
The Stars were the first team the 88s had faced in nine days. Their last game had come in the championship of the Heartland Series tournament. That victory earned the 88s a berth in the USSSA World Series in July in Hutchinson.
Coach John Parker said the break made the team more eager to win, and gave them a chance to continue their hot hitting, which has spread up and down the lineup.
"Hitting has been contagious," Parker said.
In the game against the Stars, the infield turned an impressive double play to make the final outs of the game. Parker said a strong pitching staff has come in handy during tournaments as well as in league play.
Last year, as an 11-year-old team, Parker said the 88s suffered some of the bumps in the road. But in their second year together, the cohesiveness developed has complimented their strong play, he said.
Entering the second half of the SCABA Gopher league season, the teams' schedules have been redistributed so the 88s are now playing other teams in the top half of the league.
Playing the stronger teams in the league is another factor that will be helpful in preparing the 88s for their upcoming tournaments.
Besides playing well, more importantly, Parker said, the boys are having fun.
"Everyone gets along well, and it's a really good time for the 88s right now," Parker said.