With pitchers and catchers in the process of reporting to big-league camps and the start of the Division I college season slated for Friday, the nation’s junior colleges have been in the spotlight.
On back-to-back weekends, four of the nation’s elite programs have squared off on opposite sides of the country and it’s apparent that there’s something to be said for home-field advantage.
In Marianna, Fla., from Feb. 6-8, host and No. 4-ranked Chipola JC ran the table at the Rahal-Miller JUCO National Classic, winning four straight games in a field that included No. 19 St. Petersburg (Fla.), No. 7 San Jacinto (Texas) and No. 13 Southern Nevada. Then No. 1-ranked Walters State (Tenn.) also participated in the five-team event, and lost all four games.
Four of those teams—Chipola, St. Pete, San Jac and Southern Nevada—met the following weekend in Las Vegas at the 10th annual Coyote Classic, hosted by Southern Nevada, and the Coyotes promptly ran the table in that event, winning four straight games.
PG Crosschecker’s first in-season ranking of the nation’s top 25 junior college teams was posted Monday, and CSN’s sweep was duly noted at it jumped from a No. 30 pre-season ranking to No. 13. The Coyotes had lost their first two games of the season to new No. 1 Central Arizona, and was struggling with a 3-5 record before some much-needed home cooking.
The Coyotes jumped all over ace freshmen Tommy Collier (2-2/3 IP, 6 ER) and Ryan Weber (5 IP, 7 ER) in whipping San Jac 7-3 and St. Pete 12-4, respectively, in their first two games of the tournament. Weber, the nation’s No. 2-ranked JC prospect, had worked 10 scoreless innings in winning his first two games of the season, allowing just four hits and no walks, but was touched for 11 hits in his five-inning stint against CSN. But he kept intact his streak of not walking a batter this season.