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Juco | Rankings | 6/8/2018

Final 2018 Junior College Top 25

Brian Sakowski        
Photo: (Chipola Athletics)

JUCO Top 25: May 23 | Top 250 Junior College Prospects | Preseason Top 25

It happened again. It was much the same as it was in 2017, only totally different. Chipola headed into the 2017 season as the No. 1 ranked team in JUCO baseball and ran the table as No. 1 all the way to a National Championship. They did it with what could be argued as the best JUCO team of all time, with 11 players drafted and many more now playing at four-year schools. They headed into the 2018 season with the same expectations, but essentially a whole new team.

This is the dynamic of junior college baseball; you essentially have to replace your entire team every two seasons, and for Chipola, having lost what they did from 2017, they essentially had to turnover their entire roster in one year. They didn't enter 2018 ranked No. 1 overall – and in fact, at no point in the season were they ranked in the top spot – but they did it anyways.

Similar to the 2017 team, Chipola won the Florida state tournament and then immediately lost their first game at the World Series. They had to take the difficult route, going through the loser's bracket twice – which we're sure did quite a number on Head Coach Jeff Johnson's blood pressure – but they did it anyways. For the second straight year, the NJCAA D-I National Championship trophy resides in Marianna, Florida, home of Chipola College, and many congratulations are in order as a result. What a fantastic season, and story, for the Indians. 

On the D-II side, it was a bit less dramatic. LSU-Eunice assembled a juggernaut of a team early on, and were ranked by Perfect Game as the highest NJCAA D-II team in our preseason poll. They stayed that way throughout the year and were never really challenged in 2018, going 59-6 and winning the World Series running away. Head coach Jeff Willis said that he was "pretty excited and cautiously optimistic" about his team. Coach, don't be so modest next time!

That was a bit of an understatement, as Eunice essentially ran roughshod over the entire country all season, even beating Chipola twice, before winning the World Series over Parkland in what was a really good final game. 

In the NJCAA D-III it was a different story for the first time in years. After being essentially a dynasty for several seasons, Tyler was not crowned the National Champions this season, though they came close. This year, the title belonged to Oakton (Ill.), who had to fend off a furious charge from Tyler in the final series, even being forced to a winner-take-all final game, before ultimately reigning supreme in D-III. 

Out on the West Coast it was somewhat similar to the NJCAA D-II as the highest-ranked team throughout the season won the CCCAA State Championship. That honor belonged to San Joaquin Delta, who held pretty consistently in the top 5 of our all-inclusive rankings for much of the year, peaking as high as No. 2 on several occasions. They went toe-to-toe with runner-up Sacramento City, who gave them everything they could handle and had an outstanding season in their own right, before winning the pivotal final game by a score of 7-5. 

In the Pacific Northwest, Lower Columbia (Wash.) came away with the championship over Yakima Valley (Wash.). Lower Columbia, like Chipola, won their second consecutive championship in 2018, the first NWAC repeat champions since 2002-2003 when Edmonds turned the trick. 

2018 Perfect Game/Rawlings Junior College Player of the Year: Joey Polak, 1b, Jefferson College
Polak had an absolutely monstrous year for JeffCo as they made a run at the National Championship, earning a World Series berth in Grand Junction before falling just short while there. Polak slashed .459/.550/.991, good for a ridiculous OPS of 1.541, a number even video games would have trouble replicating. He's been known as a masher throughout his baseball career and 100 percent continued that into his JUCO season, blasting 20 doubles and 32 home runs, along with a ridiculous 107 RBI. That's a nearly unheard of mark for JUCO baseball, especially when one looks closer and sees that Polak played in 66 games; he drove in a run more frequently than once every two games. He's committed to continue his career at Missouri State where he'll be draft-eligible again next year as a redshirt sophomore. 

2018 Perfect Game/Rawlings Junior College Pitcher of the Year: Sean Chandler, rhp, Iowa Western 
Another player off of a JUCO World Series team, Chandler played an absolutely pivotal role in the Reivers' run to Grand Junction. He went a perfect 11-0 on the season with a sterling 1.34 ERA across 74 innings, good for a K/9 mark of 14.96. He allowed only 32 hits and 20 walks, calculating out to a 0.70 WHIP, a truly spectacular number. Dominance doesn't begin to describe how good Chandler was on the year, and while he's committed to Tulane to continue his college career, the Texas Rangers made him their sixth round pick in the MLB Draft just the other day, and the expectation is that he'll sign and enter professional baseball. With great size, a great frame, a fastball that gets up to 95 mph and a good curveball, to go along with obviously excellent strike-throwing ability, the Rangers see Chandler as a future Major League weapon, and so do we. 

Rk. Prev. Team ST Record
1 5 Chipola FL 49-7
2 2 San Joaquin Delta CA 43-9
3 1 Walters State TN 60-8
4 4 LSU-Eunice LA 59-6
5 3 San Jacinto TX 52-15
6 9 Southern Idaho ID 50-12
7 6 Iowa Western IA 54-7
8 NR Lower Columbia WA 36-7
9 23 Sacramento City CA 36-16
10 11 Jefferson MO 54-12-1
11 7 Wabash Valley IL 45-11-1
12 NR Parkland IL 51-16-1
13 14 Chattahoochee Valley AL 48-12
14 15 Barton KS 47-15
15 8 Cisco TX 52-6
16 NR Yakima Valley WA 44-11
17 12 McLennan TX 44-15
18 10 Connors State OK 49-9
19 13 Arizona Western AZ 49-16
20 NR Oakton IL 44-17
21 16 Crowder MO 46-15
22 NR NOC-Enid OK 48-16
23 17 Santa Fe FL 39-11
24 19 Monroe NY 37-16-1
25 18 South Mountain AZ 46-15

Dropped out: Cowley County (20), Temple (21), Harford (22), Florence-Darlington (24), Ohlone (25) 

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