Juco : : Rankings
Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Final 2016 Junior College Top 25

Chris King        
Photo: Yavapai College

Perfect Game Junior College Top 25: May 24 | Preseason Top 50 Teams

It’s hard to believe another season has come and gone. The 2016 season featured some of the best team and individual performances you’ll ever see from all levels of the game, like Brylie Ware from Neosho County posting the first Triple Crown since 1985 and helping lead his team to a 51-11 record.

After all the long bus rides, bruises and extra inning games, when it was all said and done, the Yavapai RoughRiders are your 2016 NJCAA Division I Champions and finish first in the final PG rankings as well.

Coach Ryan Cougill had his work cut out for him this year after some early injuries took their toll, but he kept his team upbeat and on a positive path and things all fell into place at the end. Lefty Joseph Romero led the team in starts, wins and strikeouts and none bigger than his 15 strikeouts in a complete game win in the National Title game versus a loaded San Jacinto team. Yavapai leaves Grand Junction with not only a World Series ring, but with a well represented group in the All-Tournament team led by Shortstop Rashaan Kuahaulua, who took home the Preston Walker trophy for the tournament’s most outstanding player after hitting .455 with two bombs and seven RBI in Grand Junction. Romero and Kuahaulua were joined by teammates center fielder Nate Easley (most outstanding defender), Brock Ephan, and Ramsey Romano on the All-Tournament team with Coach Cougill being named Coach of the Year.

San Jacinto finished second in Grand Junction and also in our rankings. Coach Arrington is one of the best in the business and this year was no exception. It’s not an easy job to handle the high expectations that this team has every year, but even after taking his team to Grand Junction for the 10th time in his tenure, he still makes it look easy at times. The Gators run in Grand Junction was highlighted by one of the greatest pitching performance in the history of the tournament from freshman lefthander Devin Smeltzer. Smeltzer pitched his team into the championship game with a complete game vs. Chattahoochee Valley where he gave up one run on two hits, walked one and struck out an eye-popping 20 batters, falling one short of the record. It was pure domination from start to finish.

Santa Rosa finishes third in the rankings after winning the California State Championship and a final record of 38-9. Iowa Western (52-15) and Chattahoochee Valley (52-12) round out the final Top 5 of the 2016 season.

NJCAA Division II Champs Jones County come in at seventh after going 4-1 at the Division II World Series in Enid, Oklahoma. Jones County lost to 12th-ranked Gateway in round 2, but avenged that loss by beating Gateway twice, including the decisive championship game. Jones County set a school record with 54 wins this year and Coach Chris Kirtland delivered the school its first ever National Championship in his first year on the job.

Rounding out the Top 10 are Cisco (6th), Harford (8th), Cowley (9th) and Santa Fe (10th). All four of those teams made it to the Division I World Series and really represented their schools well all season long.

We’re also going to hand out some postseason hardware along with our friends at Rawlings to the Player and Pitcher of the Year:

2016 Perfect Game/Rawlings Junior College Player of the Year:
Brylie Ware, 3B, Neosho County (Kan.)
As noted above Ware won the triple crown at the junior college level, hitting .560-29-125, numbers that would make the 1985 version of Pete Incaviglia proud. He also hit 29 doubles and four triples, walking nearly three times more than he struck out (37 to 14) with a .660 on-base percentage and a 1.128 slugging percentage. Congratulations to Ware on not only being named the PG/Rawlings Player of the Year but for also enjoying a historically amazing season.

2016 Perfect Game/Rawlings Junior College Pitcher of the Year:
Matthias Dietz, RHP, John A. Logan (Ill.)
From a pitching perspective, Dietz’ numbers are almost as video-game crazy as Ware’s are, going 12-1 in 13 starts this year, and eight of those were complete games. He tossed 103 innings (nearly eight innigns per appearance), allowing just 66 hits and 11 walks with 117 strikeouts. He has committed to play for TCU next year but isn’t expect to get there, as the 6-foot-5, 220-pound righty is ranked 63rd overall in our draft rankings thanks to a fastball that peaks in the mid- to upper-90s.

The 2016 JUCO season is one I will never forget and I hope you all enjoyed following as much as I did covering it.

Rk. Prev. Team ST Record Conference
1 18 Yavapai AZ 49-20 24-12
2 1 San Jacinto TX 52-12 31-9
3 5 Santa Rosa CA 38-9 17-4
4 3 Iowa Western IA 52-15 20-4
5 4 Chattahoochee Valley AL 52-12 29-3
6 14 Cisco TX 48-16 21-11
7 19 Jones County MS 54-9 26-4
8 6 Harford MD 54-11 25-1
9 12 Cowley KS 44-18 25-11
10 2 Santa Fe FL 42-10 19-4
11 8 Delgado LA 37-16 4-2
12 NR Gateway AZ 43-22 26-14
13 9 LSU Eunice LA 51-6 NA
14 NR Yakima Valley WA 34-17 20-8
15 11 Chipola FL 43-16 16-4
16 13 Neosho County KS 51-11 28-8
17 7 Mercer County NJ 51-10 11-0
18 NR Golden West CA 32-16 12-9
19 15 St. Johns River FL 42-14 16-7
20 16 McLennan TX 45-12 25-7
21 17 Connors State OK 48-11 15-5
22 21 Darton State GA 43-21 21-7
23 22 Dyersburg State TN 39-13 19-4
24 NR Tyler TX 42-16 4-3
25 24 Walters State TN 47-16 21-3

Dropped out: Chaffey (10), Lower Columbia (20), Grayson (23), Cypress (25).

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