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High School Sports

High School Sports

Gem dandy: Kukuk throws no-no

Free State High’s Cody Kukuk delivers to Shawnee Mission East. Kukuk threw a no-hitter as the Firebirds beat the Lancers, 3-0, Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at FSHS.

Free State High’s Cody Kukuk delivers to Shawnee Mission East. Kukuk threw a no-hitter as the Firebirds beat the Lancers, 3-0, Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at FSHS.

April 20, 2011, 12:00 a.m. Updated April 20, 2011, 11:34 a.m.

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Free State Third Baseman Anthony Miele, left, corrals a throw to hold a Shawnee Mission East runner on the bag in the Firebirds’ 3-0 victory. Behind a no-hitter by Cody Kukuk, FSHS beat the Lancers on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at FSHS.

Free State Third Baseman Anthony Miele, left, corrals a throw to hold a Shawnee Mission East runner on the bag in the Firebirds’ 3-0 victory. Behind a no-hitter by Cody Kukuk, FSHS beat the Lancers on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at FSHS.

Free State High pitcher Cody Kukuk wasn’t perfect.

But it’s hard to imagine how he could have been much better.

Kukuk’s fastball breezed past bats before crashing into catcher Lee McMahon’s mitt. His curveball had batters ducking for cover, only to drop right back in the strike zone. As for his slider, coach Mike Hill could describe it only as unhittable.

Unhittable, indeed. Kukuk, Free State’s 6-foot-4 senior lefty, struck out 13 and no-hit Shawnee Mission East, leading the Firebirds to a 3-0 victory on a chilly Tuesday night at FSHS.

“It’s what he always does,” Colin Toalson said with a grin. “Just get used to it.”

Kukuk simply shrugged and praised his coaching staff and his teammates in the field behind him, seemingly not overly enamored with himself in the wake of tossing his finest game of the year.

“I just did what I could,” he said.

The Lancers (6-4) only hit two balls hard against Kukuk, and their closest bid at a hit came on a soft ground ball in the fifth inning.

With two outs, SME leadoff hitter Anthony Scott slapped a slow roller to Toalson at shortstop — who hastily charged and fired a throw to first, which was well over Montana Samuels’ head.

The sizeable Lancer contingent clamored for a hit, but Toalson felt as though a good throw would have been plenty to put out the speedy Scott.

“I kind of rushed it, and it got away from me,” Toalson said.

Kukuk helped his own cause in the first inning, as he ripped an RBI single to drive home Toalson, who led off with a hard double to the right-field fence.

Two batters later, Samuels hit a sacrifice fly to right to plate Preston Schenck and make it 2-0.

Kukuk scored in the third on an RBI single from Tim Lewis to put the Firebirds on top 3-0.

Joe Dineen collected two hits, and Anthony Miele also slapped a single for FSHS (9-1).

From there, it was all Kukuk (6-0), who said his only other no-hitter was a five-inning effort way back in Little League.

Though he allowed six base-runners — two walks, two hit batsmen, the error and a wild pitch after a strikeout — Kukuk continually worked out of trouble by relying on his impressive arsenal of pitches.

“Whenever I’d let a few go, I’d just step off the back and collect myself,” Kukuk said. “Just reboot and go.”

He proved as much in the third, where he stranded a runner at second with three straight outs, including two strikeouts. Kukuk did it again in the fourth, when he struck out the side after hitting a batter to begin the inning.

After hitting a batter and throwing a wild pitch in the sixth, he stranded a runner on third with back-to-back strikeouts and a soft comebacker to the mound.

“You want him to be able to pitch his way out of jams and utilize his defense,” Hill said. “At this level, he’s able to reach back and strike out a lot of people, but where he’s headed, that’s not always the case.”

Hill is referring to the next level. Kukuk has signed to play at Kansas University next fall.

But if Kukuk keeps pitching like this — as evidenced by the many major league scouts who already have their radar guns trained on him — he may never make it over to campus.

“He just pounded the zone,” Hill said. “If he does that, he’s as good as it gets.”

FSHS will play at Shawnee Mission South at 4:30 p.m. Thursday before returning home for a makeup game against Blue Valley Northwest on Friday at 5.

Friday’s game will be resumed with two outs in the top of the first inning.

• A previous version of this story was updated.

Comments

iquilt 3 years, 8 months ago

We are friends with one of the parents from SME....their record is 6-4.....care to take that back sierra club?? Need you really make a comment at all about that anyway? You must be a very bitter person.

iquilt 3 years, 8 months ago

Thank-you for confirming you are just a bitter person.

CardHawkFan 3 years, 8 months ago

You ever watched any Sunflower League games sierraclub? It is the toughest league in the state with players getting drafted every year. That says a lot considering the teams may only get 20 games to show what they've got. It doesn't matter what the records are, a win is a win. How about celebrating the fact that, as tough as the league is, both of our high schools put out quality teams every year and compete. Keep 'em rockin' Cody!

cheerio 3 years, 8 months ago

Proud supporter of both Lawrence teams. Kukuk is showing some skill, but "toughest league in the state"...questionable. Only three of the past 10 6A state champions have come from the Sunflower League. There are also several 4A and 5A leagues that could stand up pretty well against the Sunflower League. A win is a win, but this is Kansas baseball we are talking about.

iquilt 3 years, 8 months ago

'Several"????? Are you kidding me? What 4A LEAGUE could stand up well? Maybe one team out of a 4A league but not the whole league. The toughest 5A league is the Blue Valley group. Seaman and Shawnee Heights will definitely be contenders in that class this year BUT they are in the same sub-state with Lansing who is also a contender. And last year's 6A champ (Blue Valley) dropped to 5A this year. Saying that only three of the past 10 6A champs came from the Sunflower league is really a big statement. Generally all the Olathe schools and Shawnee Mission schools knock each other out in sub-state so only 2 to three teams from the league make it to state.

CardHawkFan 3 years, 8 months ago

Last year alone there were at least four kids in the Sunflower League alone that I know of that all featured a 90-plus fastball. The only 5A or 4A schools that could compete are private schools, which means they can recruit. Don't get me wrong, I played in Class 4A against some very tough opponents. Sunflower League is a whole different ballgame. There a couple of Wichita-area teams, but that's about it and it ends up being Maize or Goddard everytime. Those are both quality programs as well.

iquilt 3 years, 8 months ago

Again- Thank-you for confirming you are a bitter person.

CardHawkFan 3 years, 8 months ago

Well since you can't draft football players out of high school, it makes that comment a moot point. With ONorth in the Sunflower League, you are correct, it is an extremely tough league. But, if your comment made sense, then that means that football draws the best baseball players or basketball players to their schools...Good programs bring the best players, regardless of the sport. I also understand that baseball is not a revenue sport. There are only three that exist in college sports...football and men's and women's basketball (in some cases). That's it.

MISTERTibbs 3 years, 8 months ago

Jealous - feeling resentment against someone because of that person's rivalry, success, or advantages (often followed by of ): sierraclub is jealous of Free State, or sierraclub is jealous of Cody Kukuk.

BillybobThorten 3 years, 8 months ago

I thought the Toalson "error" was probably an infield single. Poor throw, but the guy probably ( not 100%) had it beat.

The way these guys are playing, and really just the way Kukuck is pitching, they will CRUSH LHS.

Val Walthall 3 years, 8 months ago

Way to go Kukuk and the Firebirds. A No-No is a true team effort and it's a great accomplishment!

iquilt 3 years, 8 months ago

Third times a charm:) Thank-you again for confirming you are a bitter person.

CardHawkFan 3 years, 8 months ago

Are you kidding me? So you have a beef with Free State...we get it. Find another forum and let these kids enjoy the precious years they have as youths before cynicism and bitterness end up creeping in and they end up like...you. If it wasn't legal, it wouldn't happen...trust me.

hbjayhawk 3 years, 8 months ago

Congrats on the No-No! Impressive. Even though it may not have been the toughest opponent, anytime you can accomplish this feat, you should be proud. You have a bright future ahead of yourself. Don't get an ego and think MLB. Try pitching in the B12 conference first. You will learn quickly that it is easier said than done. The starting lineup for the Univ of Texas isn't quite Shawnee Mission . . . The Arkansas Travelers (AA) starting lineup isn't quite the University of Texas . . . and the Kansas City Royals are still gonna lose 90 games and they are also pretty darn good. Develop and get to the top over time. Money fame and girls will follow.

Scott Morgan 3 years, 8 months ago

How I view Major League baseball players talent. Remember, Kukuck will be one of the first chosen.

One Summer many moons ago my local mens baseball team played an opponent giving a low level Chicago White Sox minor league player a few starts.

It happened in those days, team could park players in colleges and have them play minor league ball in the summer. This guy was hurt in college and trying to get himself in shape.

We were good + - former Legion Players and some college guys mixed in.

The first pitch I saw broke at what seemed a few inches from the plate. We began laughing during the second inning due to none of us touching the ball. His last innings the coach let him cut in loose. I could hardly see the ball let alone hit it.

and this guy was low low low in the Sox organization.

Mike Ford 3 years, 8 months ago

as someone with a relative from lawrence who is playing baseball at Wichita State and didn't get a 50 game suspension this season, I would comment on the lack of sportsmanship on the student's behalf at Free State. I witnessed this wonderful behavior firsthand attending a sub-state game between Lawrence High and Free State. No acted spoiled at all....no one....

BillybobThorten 3 years, 8 months ago

I'm not sure what the F you are talking about??

Maxandwillie 3 years, 8 months ago

Get a life people. The bitterness is ugly and if you are really that worked up by high school sports I cant imagine how you deal with real problems in your lives.

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