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The Texas Collegiate League will be expanding to Duncanville for its 2006 season, it was announced Thursday.

The team, to be called the Duncanville Deputies, is owned by local businessman Chris Najork and his son Jeff. The Najork family has been longtime residents of Duncanville. PICTURE AT RIGHT: TCL Chairman Gerald Haddock (right) presents TCL caps to Jeff (left) and Chris Najork (center).

The Deputies become the ninth team in the Texas Collegiate League, a summer wooden bat league which enters its third season in 2006.

“The Texas Collegiate League is very happy to make this announcement today,” commented TCL Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gerald Haddock. “Duncanville has a great baseball tradition, and the city will be an outstanding addition to the league. Chris and Jeff Najork will run a first class operation and will bring an entertaining product to Duncanville.”

The Deputies will play at Panther Field, a 1500-seat facility that is located on the campus of Duncanville High School and is the home of the Panthers baseball team. Duncanville High School’s athletic program was selected as 24th best in the United States by Sports Illustrated in May 2005.

The team also announced Thursday the appointment of Kyle Houser as Head Coach. Houser, who is an assistant baseball coach at Klein Collins High School in Houston, served as an assistant coach for the TCL’s Euless LoneStars last summer.

An eighth round selection by the Colorado Rockies in the June 1993 major league draft, Houser spent seven seasons as an infielder in the Rockies minor league system before completing his playing career with the Fort Worth Cats in 2001. He was on the coaching staff at Texas A&M University from 1999-2003 and at Dallas’ Lake Highlands High School in 2004. Houser is a 1993 graduate of Duncanville High School.

The Deputies have opened an office at 407 North Cedar Ridge Drive in Duncanville. The team’s website, www.duncanvilledeputies.com, is currently under construction, and ticket and promotional information will be announced in the near future. The team is also working on a logo design and a mascot costume.

“We are excited about bringing the Texas Collegiate League to Duncanville,” said Jeff Najork, who will serve as the team’s General Manager. “The fans of this area will have an opportunity to watch some of the top collegiate players in the country at a great facility in a fun atmosphere.”

Former Duncanville High School baseball standout Mike Bacsik, who has pitched in the majors with the Indians, Mets and Rangers, attended the press conference on Thursday afternoon at Panther Field and tossed out the ceremonial first pitch.

The nine teams currently in the Texas Collegiate League also include the defending league champion Denton Outlaws, Coppell Copperheads, Euless LoneStars, Graham Roughnecks, Highland Park Blue Sox, McKinney Marshals, Mineral Wells Steam, and Weatherford Wranglers.

The 2006 division alignment and schedule will be announced at a later date. The TCL is expected to have a 48-game schedule running from early June until the end of July again in 2006.

Over 200 of the nation’s top collegiate players are expected to participate in the TCL next summer from close to 80 schools including Arkansas, Baylor, Dallas Baptist, Houston, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Pacific, Penn St., Rice, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UTA, and Wichita St.

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