Howard College is JUCO preseason No.1 for second straight year

It’s becoming a familiar position for the Howard (Texas) College Hawks.

For the second straight season, the Hawks top the NJCAA/Perfect Game USA D1 Preseason Poll, which was released Friday.

The Hawks began the season ranked No. 1 in 2010, and went on to have a solid season, going 45-10 and winning the Western Texas Junior College Conference before being eliminated in the Region 5 playoffs.

This season, Howard is led by a pitching staff that includes right-handers Derrick Bleeker and Damien Magnifico.

Bleeker is from Longmont, and after graduating from Skyline High School, spent a season at the University of Arkansas.

Mangnifico was a fifth-round pick of the New York Mets and is in his second year at Howard.

The Hawks have 18 players back from last season, including seven starters.

Rounding out the top five are 2010 Alpine Bank Junior College World Series runner-up San Jacinto (Texas) College at No. 2, State College of Florida at No. 3, Walters State (Tenn) Community College at No. 4, and Central Arizona College at No. 5.

Iowa Western, the 2010 JUCO champion, is the 10th-ranked team. All-tournament pitcher Taylor Eikenberry and sophomore shortstop Brandon Bass return for the Reivers, who also boast promising freshmen third baseman Derek Tomscha, who was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies out of high school.

Other teams in the top 25 include No. 11 Spartanburg (S.C.) Methodist College, which has qualified for the JUCO World Series four times in the past 10 years.

Yavapai (Ariz.) College is at No. 15, and 2010 JUCO participant Chattanooga (Tenn.) State Community College enters this year’s poll at No. 18.

College of Southern Nevada is at No. 22, and Cowley (Kan.) College rounds out the poll at No. 25.

Teams just outside of the Top 25 include Lamar Community College and Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College.


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