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Krolikowski one of many area prospects thriving in baseball

Ryan Krolikowski (5) talks with his Grand Island Home Federal teammates on July 7, 2017. (KHGI)

Ryan Krolikowski spent two years at Cloud County Community College (Kans.), and turned it into another two years of baseball, when he announced on Twitter his intentions to play at Emporia State.

"I had some buddies who had played for (Emporia State) Coach (Seth) Wheeler in the summer and they had nothing but good things to say about him," Krolikowski says. "A former teammate is also committed or playing there right now and he enjoys it. They play for championships every year so it was tough to pass up a pretty good offer and play for a team that plays for championships."

Increased production was the name of the game for the Grand Island, Neb. native, who he inflated his batting average by 60 points from a .304 as a freshman. He bumped his home run total up by two from his first to second year, finishing with 10. The future Hornet was also responsible for 86 RBI in his two seasons, 53 of them coming during the 2017-18 campaign.

Krolikowski spent this summer playing in 17 games with the Hastings Sodbusters, hitting .244 in 41 at bats with a double and four RBI.

The Sodbusters, a member of the college wood-bat Expedition League, are one of several reasons to point at as proof baseball's popularity seems to be increasing across Central Nebraska.

The expansion is providing more opportunities for the Cornhusker State to showcase the area's best, and in some cases, continue their careers at the next level, like Ryan Krolikowski.

"I think it's just untapped talent," Krolikowski said. "Before my grade, which has one Division I player and two Division II players, I think it's just been untapped talent unless you were head and shoulders above everybody. I think people are figuring out there's money in baseball and there's people who want to do it for college athletics and I think it's really cool to see it grow and see how much it has expanded in two years of me graduating high school."

Hastings High School added a baseball program starting in the spring of 2017. Kearney is also on its way towards forming a co–op squad with Kearney Catholic, joining their legion teams.

The only reduction in baseball around the area came on Feb. 12, 2018, when the University of Nebraska at Kearney eliminated baseball, men's golf and men's tennis.


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