Qualifying tournaments for JUCO are underway
As the playoff season begins in earnest, there was plenty of movement Tuesday in the NJCAA Division I baseball rankings.
Chipola College (Florida), the only undefeated team in the Gulf District tournament entering Tuesday’s play, received all 10 first-place votes as the No. 1 team in the nation. Last week’s No. 1 team, McLennan Community College (Texas) fell to No. 6, but is the top seed in the Southwestern District playoffs.
Crowder College (Missouri) is No. 2 and will play in its regional tournament this weekend for the right to host the South Central District, with Hutchinson Community College (Kansas) the team to beat in the Central District playoffs, which begin this weekend in Wichita.
Former No. 1 Dyersburg State (Tennessee) is the odds-on favorite to win its region and enters the tournament ranked No. 4, followed by Chattahoochee Valley (Alabama), a top seed in the Southeastern District, along with seventh-ranked Wallace State.
Iowa Western made a significant jump in the rankings, from No. 12 to No. 8 as the Reivers open regional play this weekend.
Here’s a rundown of the district playoffs:
Gulf: Today is championship day, with Chipola playing Palm Beach State. The No. 1 Indians are undefeated, needing to win one game to advance to JUCO for the first time since 2011. Palm Beach downed Miami-Dade 6-1 in an elimination game, with Chipola beating Santa Fe 11-1.
Central: The eight-team field is set for Wichita, Kansas, starting Friday. No. 3 Hutchinson is trying to follow its men’s basketball team to a national championship, facing Kansas City in the first round, with former JUCO champion Cowley County playing Fort Scott, Neosho County playing Barton County and Johnson County facing Dodge City. The championship game is May 15, with an if-necessary game May 16.
East Central: The top two teams out of the regional tournaments in Georgia and Tennessee will play at the Tennessee champions next weekend to determine the World Series berth. East Georgia State, by winning the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association regular-season title, is guaranteed a spot in the district tournament. Dyersburg State is the top seed in the Tennessee tournament and will also receive one of the automatic spots in the district playoffs. Walters State, which finished its season 44-12, is not eligible for the postseason because of an NJCAA violation.
Eastern: Florence Darlington Tech upended Spartanburg Methodist 15-7 in the Region 10 tournament Monday, its first regional championship, and will host the Eastern District playoffs. The Region 20 tournament is Friday and Saturday at Hagerstown, Maryland, with Potomac State facing Hagerstown and Harford playing Chesapeake in the first round. The New York champion, either Monroe or ASA, will also play in the Eastern District.
Northern: The Region 11 tournament begins Friday in Centerville, Iowa, with No. 8 Iowa Western playing Southwestern in the first round. Indian Hills is hosting the regional, playing Marshalltown. South Suburban is the top seed and hosts the Region 4 playoffs starting Thursday, with Triton College the No. 2 seed in the four-team tournament. In Region 24, Wabash Valley (Illinois) hosts the tournament starting Friday, with that champion hosting the district tournament May 19-21.
South Central: Delgado Community College (Louisiana) won the Region 23 championship last weekend, with the Dolphins advancing to the district playoffs May 18-20 at the Region 16 champion in Missouri. That regional tournament begins Thursday in Joplin, with Crowder, St. Louis, Jefferson County and Mineral Area in the field. The six-team Region 2 tournament begins Thursday in Woodward, Oklahoma, with Seminole State, Eastern Oklahoma and Connors State the teams likely to battle for the spot in the district tournament.
Southeastern: Chattahoochee Valley and Wallace State are the top seeds and received first-round byes in the 10-team tournament that begins Friday in Ozark, Alabama, and runs through May 16. Chatt Valley, which placed third in last year’s JUCO World Series, plays the winner of Alabama Southern and Central Alabama, with Wallace State facing the winner between Snead State and LB Wallace. In the other first-round games, Shelton State plays Wallace-Dothan and Faulkner State plays Southern Union.
Southern: No. 15 San Jacinto and No. 9 Panola are the No. 1 seeds from their respective conferences for the eight-team tournament that begins Saturday and runs through May 17 in Grand Prairie, Texas. Panola faces Blinn and San Jac plays Paris in the first round, with Galveston playing Angelina and Navarro playing Alvin in other first-round games.
Southwestern: McLennan is the No. 1 seed from the North division, with No. 11 Odessa No. 1 from the West in the eight-team tournament beginning Friday and running through May 15 at Texas Tech University. New Mexico plays Grayson, Odessa faces Hill, Midland plays Weatherford, and Howard plays McLennan in the first round.
Western: Last year’s national champion, Yavapai, is out of the running in Region 1, with Central Arizona and Arizona Western playing a best-of-three series this week to determine which team will host the district tournament May 18-20. Both teams will advance to the four-team playoffs. The College of Southern Nevada is the top seed and hosts the Region 18 tournament Thursday through Saturday in Henderson, with the Region 9 tournament beginning Thursday in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, with McCook playing Western Nebraska and Trinidad State playing Northeastern in the first round.