Central Arizona is No. 1 in JUCO preseason poll

Central Arizona College begins the 2012 season where it nearly finished in 2011.

The Vaqueros, who were one run away from winning the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series last summer, top the 2012 National Junior College Athletic Association preseason poll, released Thursday.

Chipola (Fla.) College is ranked second, Howard (Texas) College is third, Iowa Western Community College is fourth, Middle Georgia College is fifth and defending national champion Navarro (Texas) College is sixth.

Central Arizona returns 10 players from the 2011 team, including sophomore pitcher Cody Gray (13-1, 1.96 ERA). The Vaqueros begin their quest for the program’s third national title today.

Chipola added five transfers from the Southeastern Conference. The Indians open their season today.

Howard has eight transfers from Division I programs and have 11 players already committed to four-year programs for 2013. The Hawks won the 2009 national title, going 68-1 that season.

Iowa Western is seeking its sixth-consecutive trip to the World Series. The Reivers are led by sophomore third baseman Damek Tomscha, who had 14 home runs and 59 RBI in 2011.

Middle Georgia returns 12 players from the 2011 squad that went 37-20. The Warriors haven’t qualified for the World Series since 2004.

Navarro will attempt to become the first team to win back-to-back national titles since Grayson County (Texas) Community College did in 1999 and 2000. The Bulldogs return nine players from last year’s national championship team (46-18).

Grayson County, Walters State (Tenn.) Community College, Santa Fe (Fla.) College and South Carolina-Sumter round out the top 10.

The 2012 Alpine Bank Junior College World Series is May 26-June 2 at Suplizio Field.


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