Ross, Wetherholt coming up big for Kings

Cutline: Champion City Kings infielder Ben Ross (second from right) celebrates with teammates after scoring during their 13-5 victory over the Danville Dans on Wednesday, July 28. Ross recently set the Kings record for hits in a season. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER
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Cutline: Champion City Kings infielder Ben Ross (second from right) celebrates with teammates after scoring during their 13-5 victory over the Danville Dans on Wednesday, July 28. Ross recently set the Kings record for hits in a season. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

SPRINGFIELD — Shawnee High School grad Ben Ross is rewriting the Champion City Kings record book.

The Notre Dame College sophomore All-American set a new single-season record with 73 hits, passing the previous mark set by former University of Nebraska outfielder Joe Acker in 2018. Ross is hitting. 363 with eight home runs, six doubles and 39 RBIs in 201 at-bats through Thursday’s game.

“It’s really cool to (break the record) in front of Springfield, where I grew up,” Ross said. “It’s great with the coaching staff. I don’t think it would be possible without the group of guys I’m playing with. It’s awesome.”

The record-tying hit came via a “little league home run” in the Kings 13-5 victory over the Danville Dans on Wednesday in Springfield. Ross singled on a ground ball to first base, advanced to third base on an overthrow and scored on another overthrow. He went 3-for-4 in the game.

“It’s just a weird fashion to break the record, but I’ll take it,” Ross said.

Kings infielder JJ Wetherholt was also named the Prospect League’s Slugger of the Week on July 27 after hitting .684 (13-for-19) with a home run and three RBIs.

A few months ago, 18-year-old West Virginia University-bound Wetherholt was playing for Mars High School in Mars, Pa., where he finished his career as the school’s all-time leader in hits and batting average. Wetherholt was searching for a place to play this summer after West Virginia’s typical activities for incoming freshmen were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the coaching staff placed them with collegiate summer baseball teams.

“It’s been a great experience,” Wetherholt said. “A lot of things went through my mind about if I was good enough to play at this level so quickly after high school baseball and what parts of my game needed to improve. When I first got here, I was a little bit nervous and things weren’t going the best, but they weren’t going too terrible. I kind of kept going day-in, day-out, trying to new things and listening to the coaches. Last week I caught fire and I hope to keep the momentum going.”

The experience is paying off, he said.

“I thought it would be a great idea because the competition from high school and travel ball to the Big 12 is obviously going to be really different,” Wetherholt said. “This is a great step up for me to challenge myself and really compete with college guys. It’s been a great experience”

The Kings — members of the collegiate wooden bat Prospect League — won the Ohio River Valley Division first half. They’ll host the second-half winner at 6:35 p.m. on Aug. 5 at Carleton Davidson Stadium. All tickets for the single-elimination playoff game will cost $5.

After a weekend series at West Virginia, the Kings will return home to face Johnstown for three games at Carleton Davidson Stadium — a doubleheader on Tuesday at 5:35 p.m. and a single game on Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. — before hosting the single-elimination division championship game on Thursday night.

UPCOMING HOME GAMES

Tuesday, Aug. 3 (doubleheader): Johnstown at Kings

Wednesday, Aug. 4: Johnstown at Kings; Fireworks Night all tickets $10, $1 dog night

PLAYOFF INFORMATION

What: Prospect League Ohio River Valley Division Championship game

Who: Second Half Winner at Kings

When: Aug. 5, 6:35 p.m.

Where: Carleton Davidson Stadium, Mitchell Blvd., Springfield

Cost: All tickets are $5; limited number of $15 reserved box seats