NOTE: Perfect Game’s Allan Simpson will unveil his
ranking of the nation’s Top 100 Junior-College Prospects for the
2014 baseball draft on Friday, just in time for the start of
championship tournaments all around the country.
Series Fields Set
Across JC Landscape
state, region and district play on all fronts now complete,
national-championship tournaments are set to start in all three
divisions of the National Junior College Athletic Association this
of the focus will be on the 57th annual NJCAA Division I
World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., featuring Alabama’s
Chattahoochee Valley, the No. 1-ranked team in Perfect Game’s
latest ranking of the. That
10-team, double-elimination tournament begins Saturday.
D-II World Series, another 10-team, double-elimination affair, also
kicks off Saturday in Enid, Okla., while the eight-team D-III World
Series opens that day in Tyler, Texas.
junior colleges are noticeably absent from national-championship
competition as they are not members of the NJCAA, but national
implications will nonetheless be at stake when four teams gather
Saturday in Fresno to play for a state title. Orange Coast and Oxnard
are ranked 2-3 in PG’s latest Top 50, and either school could
conceivably finish No. 1 in PG’s final ranking of junior-college
teams, depending on how things play out on a number of fronts over
the next few days.
a series of upsets that took place around the country in the various
preliminary tournaments leading up to championship play this weekend,
PG’s Top 50 has undergone some significant upheaval, though
Chattahoochee Valley (47-9) remains firmly entrenched at No. 1 and
Orange Coast (33-9) at No. 2.
Valley handily won the Alabama state/NJCAA District 22 tournament in
four straight games to qualify for its first-ever appearance in the
D-I World Series. It has more to live up to than its No. 1 national
ranking as another Alabama school, Central Alabama, won the Junior
College World Series a year ago.
unlikely that Chattahoochee Valley, which has already set a school
record for wins in a season, will have anyone drafted in the first
10-12 rounds of the upcoming baseball draft, but the Pirates have a
well-balanced team led by South Carolina-bound catcher Jared Martin
(.360-2-51) and Mississippi State-bound shortstop John Holland
(.408-4-38, 26 SB), and a pitching staff led by Auburn-bound
righthander Dalton Rentz (12-2, 1.58, 97 IP/94 SO) that posted a
collective 2.28 ERA.
Coast, meanwhile, is coincidentally also nicknamed the Pirates, and
will be playing in its fourth California Final Four since 2005 after
sweeping through the Southern California sectional playoffs. OCC,
though, has pulled up short of expectations in recent years—notably
in 2011, when it was ranked No. 1 nationally by PG most of the
season, only to stumble at the end.
Hill twins, righthander David (10-1, 1.61, 106 IP/103 SO) and
lefthander Jacob (10-0, 1.29), both University of San Diego recruits,
have been major contributors to Orange Coast’s success this spring,
though a recent sore arm has limited Jacob Hill’s impact on his
team’s run through the playoffs. However, freshman lefthander Art
Vidro has stood in capably for Hill and been the Pirates unsung hero
of late with three playoff wins. In 20 innings in post-season play,
Vidro has allowed just one earned run and 10 hits, and struck out 17.
Hill is the unquestioned ace of the Orange Coast staff, and should
factor prominently into the draft with a legitimate chance of going
in the top 4-6 rounds. He ranks as the second-best JC talent
California, according to PG, and sits just behind Oxnard fire-balling
righthander Patrick Weigel, whose fastball recently topped out in
has played a significant role in leading Oxnard to its No. 3 national
ranking, but his contribution pales in comparison to teammate Luke
Eubank, who has been the dominant pitcher in the California JC ranks
while posting a 12-0, 0.69 record, along with 126 strikeouts in 117
Chattahoochee State, Orange Coast and Oxnard rank 1-2-3 in PG’s
ranking of JC teams and have played championship-caliber baseball
most of the 2014 season, several other teams have worked their way
into the national-championship hunt by winning when it counted most.
Texas schools that qualified for the D-I World Series, Blinn (34-26)
and Midland (40-23), finished no better than fourth in their
respective conferences and were the lowest seeded teams in their
respective region playoffs—No. 39 Blinn in NJCAA region 14, No. 37
Midland in region 5—but managed to pull off a string of upsets to
punch their ticket to Grand Junction. No. 40 Cochise (40-29) was
similarly an also-ran in the Arizona junior-college ranks before
going on a roll in post-season play that landed that school in the
D-I World Series for a second straight year.
field in the D-II World Series, meanwhile, is more wide open than
expected after No. 1-ranked Jones County (Miss.) and No. 2 LSU-Eunice
both fell in the same regional to upstart Hinds (Miss.), and were
eliminated from national competition.