Road to JUCO is rough for top teams

When it comes to the postseason, nothing is guaranteed.

With the first pitch of the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series only 12 days away, top junior college baseball teams are fighting their way though regional and district tournaments with mixed results.

Four of the top 10 teams in the final NJCAA poll have been eliminated from postseason play.

Second-ranked Yavapai (Ariz.), No. 4 Young Harris (Ga.), No. 5 Walters State (Tenn.) and No. 6 Miami Dade were knocked out in their regional tournaments.

Walters State had been to two of the past three JUCO tournaments, winning the whole thing in 2006. The Senators ended the season ranked fifth in the country but lost in regionals to Dyersburg State and Volunteer State.

“The hardest part about getting to Grand Junction is getting through the state and district tournament,” Walters State coach Ken Campbell said. “We didn’t play well, and when you get to the tournament you have to raise your game to another level, because the other teams will.”

By the end of today, three teams will have completed the gauntlet. Championship games in the Gulf (Florida), Southern (East Texas) and the Central (Kansas) districts are today.

Here’s how the district tournaments are shaping up:

• Gulf: Former champion Chipola plays Palm Beach Community College at 11 this morning. The winner of that game takes on Santa Fe Community College at 2 p.m., with the winner advancing to Grand Junction.

• Central: Seward County sits in the championship game, waiting for the winner of today’s semifinal game between Colby Community College and Cowley Community College. Cowley stayed alive Monday with a 9-6 win over Garden City. Today’s semifinal game begins at 3 p.m., with the championship at 6 p.m.

• Southern: San Jacinto College-North is in the championship game at 4 p.m., with Blinn and Texarkana facing off in the semifinal game at noon. Blinn eliminated Navarro 6-4 on Monday night.

• Western: Western Nevada College (Region 18) is hosting Central Arizona College (Region 1) and Northeastern Junior College (Region 9) in a three-team tournament Thursday through Saturday.

• Southwestern: The Texas-New Mexico tournament includes top-ranked Howard College, which is 55-0 after a 7-3 victory over North Central Texas in the first round. The tournament wraps up Wednesday, with Midland, McLennan and Temple all in the winners’ bracket.

• Northern: The two-day playoff begins Friday. Region 4 champion Triton College hosts Southwest Illinois College and Iowa Western Community College. Southwest Illinois and Iowa Western both won regional title games Monday. The Blue Storm defeated Wabash Valley College 5-2 in Region 24, and Iowa Western dropped Indian Hills 12-5 to advance.

• South Central: The field is set with play beginning Friday in the three-team tournament. Representing Region 2 is Seminole State (Okla.) College, Meridian (Miss.) Community College is out of Region 23, and Metropolitan CC-Maple Woods (Mo.) is out of Region 16.

• East Central: Region 7 champion Volunteer State takes on Region 17 champion Middle Georgia College in a best-of-three series beginning Friday.

• Southeastern: Two Alabama teams, Shelton State and Wallace State, are in the running.

• Eastern: In Garden City, N.Y., Potomac State (W.Va.) College (Region 20) plays two Region 10 squads, champion Spartanburg (S.C.) Methodist College and runner-up South Carolina-Sumter, wrapping up Saturday.


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