|CLICK HERE for a photo album from the championship game|
By Forrest Allen
Midland College Athletic Director
Outside of their clubhouse, no observer of the 2014 Midland College Chaparral baseball team's season, could have predicted the team's impressive turnaround and a repeat as NJCAA Region V Champions. After starting the season 8-4, with wins over Weatherford College, McLennan Community College and Hill College, the Chaps entered the WJCAC portion of the tournament with optimism. However the optimism of the pre-conference, soon gave way to an unexplainable 2-14 record over the first four conference season. That coupled with several mid-week non-conference games, dropped the Chaps to a dismal 13-18 record on the season and a search for answers.
Beginning with their April 1st, non-conference game versus Western Texas College and followed by a softer part of the WJCAC slate, MC righted the ship in conference series versus NMMI (3-1), Odessa College (3-1), Clarendon College (3-1) and Luna CC (4-0); to rise like a phoenix, reborn into a post season contender. Going into their final regular season series, a four game home and home, with Western Texas College, the Chaps recorded an eye popping 17-4 overall record and were now 30-22 on the season and 15-17 in conference. With one eye on the Westerners and one eye on the El Paso CC series at Clarendon College, the Chaps knew they needed to finish one game ahead of the Tejanos in order to secure the final playoff spot from the West.
Midland College took care of business against Luna CC (4-0) while Clarendon and EPCC split their series, thus sending the Chaps into the post-season. Despite their fourth place finish in the WJCAC, Midland College was regarded as one of the hottest teams in the region and a contender for the 2014 NJCAA Region V title. Midland College joined New Mexico JC, Frank Phillips College and Howard College in the tournament as well as Grayson CC, North Central Texas College, McLennan CC and Temple College from the NTJCAC.
The Region V Baseball Tournament is widely regarded as a showcase of some of the top teams among two-year colleges and features some of the best coaching talent in the nation. This year's tournament field did not disappoint.
The Chaparrals took the difficult route, losing their second round pairing, to get to the championship game in the double-elimination tournament. After an opening game win over Grayson CC (10-9), the Chaps were defeated by McLennan Community College (8-2) and would need to win five consecutive contests to defend their title.
Midland College fought to wins over North Central Texas College (15-10), Grayson (11-6) and Howard (6-5) to advance into the championship game against, McLennan. Not only would the Chaps need to defeat the Highlanders in the fourth game in two days, but would be required to do so again in the "if necessary" game on Tuesday.
Whether it be luck or perseverance, the Chaps, down 4-2 in the ninth inning, managed a comeback win in the bottom of the ninth inning (two outs) versus McLennan by a score of 5-4, to set the stage for a one game, winner takes all game on Tuesday, May 13th.
From the outset the Chaps appeared to have the confidence to pull off the win. Offensively their bats were alive and defensively the Chaps were solid. Despite a valiant attempt to keep the game close by McLennan, Midland College was in command from start to finish and successfully defended their NJCAA Region V Championship (MC 11, McLennan 6) and earn a return trip to Grand Junction, Colorado, the home of the NJCAA Division I Baseball Championships (May 24th-31st).
• enjoy a photo album from the championship game
The Chaparrals will open play at the "JUCO" on Saturday, May 24th @ 1:00 p.m. (CDT)/12:00 p.m. (MST) versus Johnson County Community College (KS). Johnson County, ranked #5 in the latest NJCAA poll, is 50-12 this season, while the Chaps are 40-23. The Chaps are have won an impressive 27 of their last 32 games, since May 1st.
Midland College and Johnson County have no common opponents this season.
NJCAA JUCO World Series Tournament Information:
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