JUCO notes: Panthers accentuate the positive
Panthers accentuate the positive
Neosho County (Kan.) Community College didn’t have much to cheer about in its 16-1 loss to Cochise (Ariz.) College, a team it had edged 2-1 in the first round three days earlier.
But in the bottom of the fifth, left-handed designated hitter Matt Milner hit a solo home run to right field, denying the Apaches a shutout in a game shortened to five innings by the 10-run rule.
And Coach Steve Murry was glad to see Milner, a sophomore who returned to the lineup for the World Series after missing seven weeks with a hand injury, go out with a big hit.
“Everything you can take from the last game that’s a positive, you take it, because there’s nothing positive about losing,” Murry said. “You can’t put too much into the negative, or every team in the country would be mad when the season was over.”
Murry took a similar approach with his postgame message to his team.
“You just tell the sophomores, ‘Good luck.’ They’ve done everything you’ve asked of them for two years. It’s sad,” Murry said. “You tell the freshmen, ‘Hey, this is why we work our butts off in the fall,’ and I think everybody gets it.
“Once you’ve been here, you understand you just went through an experience that everybody only dreams about, and we got to do it two years in a row, and now we’ll work really, really hard in the offseason to try to make it three in a row.”
JUCO home run lacks luster
Milner took little consolation in hitting a home run.
“It’s kind of bittersweet to hit a home run in a game like this where it really doesn’t matter,” he said.
Plus, he said he puts team and winning first, and he’d hoped the Panthers could go further in the tourney.
“We really competed all year and came a long way since the beginning of the year, and we really turned it on in the playoffs,” Milner said. “And then it just kind of ... it’s not very fun to go out like this, to kind of come out and lay an egg today like we did.”
Benefits of being at JUCO
Neosho County had only six sophomores, meaning the Panthers had a young team, one that freshmen took a greater interest in attending after the Panthers made a JUCO World Series appearance a year ago.
Now, Murry has a second consecutive JUCO appearance to sell to recruits as Neosho vies for a third straight trip to Grand Junction.
“Actually, next season should be a great season for us because our recruits are the benefit from the last World Series,” Murry said. “Like I say, this year was unexpected. Give credit to those kids, they competed all year long, but next year we should be reloaded and ready to go.”
Big schools come knocking late
Murry said all six of his sophomores will play next year at four-year colleges. One of them, Milner, is heading to Central Missouri, a Division II school — unless someone swoops in and changes his mind.
“Since we’ve been here, I’ve had three Division I’s inquire about him,” Murry said. “But he’s really happy to go to a really good Division II school in the University of Central Missouri.”
Neosho coach provides view from dugout
Ever wondered what it is like to coach during the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series?
Phoenix-based Reel Recruits, a company that produces professional-quality recruiting videos, gave Murry a GoPro camera to wear on the bill of his cap for the first inning of Wednesday’s loss to Cochise College.
“Somebody just asked me to wear it,” Murry said. “I said, ‘Hey, we’ll do whatever.’ … I mean, you know, things like that are fine. You’ve got to take some fun in the game, and I can mix business with pleasure. A lot of guys can’t do that. To me, I can. I feel like we’re prepared when we go in the game, so what we do right before a game, if you watched our bus, you’d understand. You’re prepared long before 10 minutes before a game, so I’m OK with that kind of thing.”
The video is available at: m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=b3z1KGfTmM0&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Db3z1KGfTmM0.
Lions Club to honor athletes
During tonight’s pregame, the Grand Junction Lions Club will present its first Grand Valley Student Athlete Award Ceremony.
The club will recognize eight student-athletes, two from each Grand Valley High School, who were selected by faculty, coaches and administrators from each school. Award winners will receive a plaque and a $250 donation will be made to a local not-for-profit organization in each student-athlete’s name.
Attendance for Game 14, Wednesday’s afternoon game between Cochise and Neosho County, was 2,439. Game 15, the night game between Spartanburg Methodist and Central Alabama, drew 8,159 fans, bringing the Wednesday total to 10,598.
The World Series attendance after five days is 88,624.