After eight successful seasons as head coach and 12 seasons in the
program altogether, Kyle Crooks has resigned as Hutchinson Community
College baseball coach on Monday to take a position at an NCAA school.
In his eight seasons as the Blue Dragons’ head coach, Crookes won or
shared three Jayhawk West championships, won two Region VI crowns,
competed in two NJCAA World Series and took Hutchinson all the way to
third place in the 2010 World Series.
Crookes leaves with an eight-year record of 292-164. He is second on
the career wins list behind only John Burgi (314 wins). His .640 winning
percentage ranks third among 10 HCC coaches and his 456 games coached
are second behind Burgi.
Crookes came to HCC as an assistant under Andy Sawyers for the 2001
season. In the two years under Sawyers, HCC went 87-27 with one Jayhawk
West title and two Region VI West sub-regional crowns. Crookes was
retained by John Wente when he took over the program before the 2003
season. The Blue Dragons went 72-43-1 in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
In 12 seasons, Crookes’ combined record at HCC as an assistant and head
coach was 451-234-1.
Crookes was hired as the Blue Dragon head coach in the summer of 2004.
In his first season as the HCC baseball leader, he took the Blue Dragons
to territory that hadn’t been charted in 30 years.
After winning a share of the 2005 Jayhawk West championship, Crookes
guided the Blue Dragons through a stacked field at the Region VI
Tournament. Losing to Garden City in the winner’s bracket final, the
Blue Dragons navigated their way back to the championship game and
defeated Garden City twice to win the program’s first Region VI
championship since 1975 and earn HCC’s first-ever berth in the NJCAA
World Series in Grand Junction, Colo.
HCC went 1-2 in Grand Junction in 2005, but rode that wave of momentum
to an outright 2006 Jayhawk West crown. HCC went 44-13 in 2006, but a
return trip to the World Series was derailed three games into the Region
The Blue Dragons knocked on the door in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and then
After a 6-2 loss in mid-April 2010 to Hesston College and then losing 3
of 4 to close the regular season, there weren’t many thoughts of Grand
Junction as the 2010 postseason started. But a magical roll began as HCC
rallied from an early three-run deficit to defeat Allen County to open
the Overland Park Regional. HCC dropped the next game to Johnson County,
but rallied to defeat Allen again and then knocked off top-seed Johnson
County twice in a rain-plagued regional to advance to Wichita.
Hutchinson trailed in every game in the sub-regional and won four of 5.
In Wichita, the Blue Dragons survived a six-run ninth by Butler in the
opener to win 9-8. HCC then had to work a lot of extra innings over the
next two games, defeating Cowley in 13 innings in the winner’s bracket
final and Seward County in 12 innings to capture the program’s third
Region VI championship.
In Grand Junction, HCC went 2-2, losing to No. 1 San Jacinto twice, the
second time in the national semifinals.
This past season, the Blue Dragons posted the sixth-most wins in team
history in a 40-17 season. The Blue Dragons shared the Jayhawk West
championship with Garden City and advanced to the Chanute sub-regional
final where they lost to eventual Region VI champion Neosho County.
Crookes’ teams have produced one Jayhawk West MVP (Thad Weber in 2006)
and one conference freshman of the year (Tanner Lubach in 2012). Lubach
was the 2012 Region VI Defensive Player of the Year.
Crookes coached four NJCAA All-Americans in Weber (second team in
2006), Stuart Hoover (third team in 2008), Shawn Lewick (honorable
mention in 2010) and Lubach (second team in 2012). The Blue Dragons had
14 first-team, 16 second-team and 16 honorable mention All-Jayhawk West
selections as well as seven first-team and four-second team All-Region
VI selections in Crookes’ eight seasons.
An average of 12 Blue Dragons signed with four-year programs over the
past eight seasons and nine players over Crookes’ 12 seasons in
Hutchinson were drafted by major league teams. Currently Andy Dirks is
in the majors with the Detroit Tigers. Weber was briefly called up this
season by the Tigers. Mike Zagurski and T.J. Bohn are former Dragons
under Crookes who have reached the major leagues.
Blue Dragon Athletic Director Randy Stange said a committee will be
formed and the process of hiring a new head coach will begin
CROOKES’ COACHING RECORD
Year Record Pct. League
2005 (HCC) 38-22 .633 21-11
2006 (HCC) 44-13 .772 23-9
2007 (HCC) 30-25 .545 16-16
2008 (HCC) 39-16 .709 25-7
2009 (HCC) 29-24 .547 21-11
2010 (HCC) 39-24 .619 18-14
2011 (HCC) 33-23 .589 19-13
2012 (HCC) 40-17 .702 23-9
Totals 292-164 .640 145-79