Wranglers earn first trip to GJ for JUCO

For a baseball program only 8 years old, the Wranglers from Cisco (Texas) College knew exactly what to do Wednesday once the final out was recorded.

“For the first one, they did OK,” Cisco baseball coach David White said of the Wranglers’ district championship dogpile. “It was all off the cuff; they had no idea. They’ve been waiting on this.

“We don’t let them celebrate until it’s time. It was time.”

Cisco, ranked No. 10 in this week’s NJCAA Division I baseball poll, beat Howard College 5-2 to win the Southwest District title and qualify for its first Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.

White started Cisco’s program eight years ago and wasn’t really sure what he had this season when it began.

“Oh, shoot no,” he said. “We hoped to compete. We knew we had a good group, but special? We never know. We sure liked this group from the start; it’s been fun.

“We lost a bunch of kids along the way, but the kids that lasted believed and have done a good job.”

With a solid group of sophomores, the Wranglers earned the No. 1 seed from the North Texas Junior College Athletic Association in the district. White said the key was to keep the Wranglers on an even keel, especially in the playoffs.

And as they worked their way to the title game, they learned from their mistakes. In Tuesday’s first title game, Howard scored 11 runs in one inning to pull away to a 16-7 win.

“They got antsy in our last game and got amped up too much and tried to talk with them,” White said. “It got out of hand. We learned from it and came back today with our lunch pails and hats and shut up and went to work. That’s what they did. Nothing bothered them.”

After the dogpile, White made a mistake common among coaches who win their first district title.

“I lost my train of thought for a second,” he said.

Splash. Ice-water shower.

“It was hot today,” White said. “It was nice.”

On the bus ride home, the Wranglers were understandably excited, especially the little guy in the back of the bus.

“My 8-year-old (Devin) is raising Cain in the back,” White said. “He is so pumped. All he knows is he gets more days off from school.”

Defending national champion Navarro (Texas) College survived its first elimination game in the Southern District tourney in Mount Pleasant, Texas, edging Texarkana 2-1.

Alvin defeated Blinn 6-4 to stay alive, with San Jacinto College-North squeezing home the winning run in the bottom of the 16th inning to beat Galveston 6-5 and reach the title game.

Alvin and Navarro play at 9 a.m. (MDT) today, with that winner facing Galveston at noon. The title game is at 4 this afternoon.

In the Southeastern District in Ozark, Ala., Southern Union and Central Alabama advanced in the losers’ bracket, with Shelton State holding off Wallace State-Hanceville 6-4 to get to the championship game Friday afternoon.

Today, Southern Union plays Central Alabama, with that winner facing Hanceville tonight to get to the title game.

Iowa Western remained a unanimous No. 1 in this week’s Division I poll. The Reivers (54-4) play in the Northern District tournament this weekend in South Holland, Ill.

Salt Lake Community College, which hosts the Western District this weekend, is No. 2, followed by Central Alabama, Jefferson (Mo.) and Polk State (Fla.), which was the first team to qualify for JUCO. Neosho (Kan.) College, the only other team to qualify so far, is No. 14.


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