All-Star James to return
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February 18, 2009 - LOVES PARK, Ill. – One of the top hitters in Rockford RiverHawks history will be back at Road Ranger Stadium this summer.

The team announced Wednesday that it had exercised the 2009 option on outfielder Jason James. Each of the last two years, James has been a Frontier League All-Star and finished second in the batting race.

James hit .350 last season with 13 home runs and 74 RBI. James lost the batting title by two points to since-traded teammate Joe Anthonsen. James not only set career highs in all three Triple Crown categories, but also threatened team records in each of the three. He totaled 133 hits, two behind Anthonsen and 10 more than the previous team record. James had 30 doubles, a team record.

“I and the coaching staff are extremely happy that he’s coming back because he’s hands down the best hitter in the league,” manager Bob Koopmann said.

James, a career .347 hitter, is also climbing up the team’s career lists. In addition to holding the highest career average in RiverHawks history, he needs 26 hits to break Ben Fjelland’s all-time record of 311. James can pass Fjelland (164) for the top spot on the all-time RBI list by driving in 14 more runs. James is one of just three players to hit 20 home runs in a RiverHawks uniform. If he matches last year’s long-ball total, he will pass all-time leader Rich Austin (32).

James, who has moonlighted on the mound in each of his three previous seasons, is not in the pitching plans, Koopmann said.

“Talking about what’s best for him getting to affiliated ball, I think it’s best for him to be out there every day in left field,” Koopmann said. “When he’s out there playing every day in left field, he’s pretty good defensively.”

James, who signed with the team in July 2006, has been with the RiverHawks longer than anyone else on the roster. The 24-year-old former Kishwaukee College player has 2-Year status.

The RiverHawks are members of the Frontier League, a 12-team independent professional baseball league that will play its 17th season this summer. The RiverHawks will begin their eighth season at 7:05 p.m. May 21 at Windy City and play their home opener at 7:05 p.m. May 26 against the Midwest Sliders of Ypsilanti. The RiverHawks host the 2009 Frontier League All-Star Game at 7:05 p.m. on July 15. Advertising and season-ticket information is available by calling (815) 885-2255. Fans can also visit the RiverHawks at www.rockfordriverhawks.com.


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