JUCO Notebook: Vikings leave mark at JUCO

The bleachers east of Suplizio Field were signed Wednesday by the Jefferson (Mo.) College baseball team before the Vikings left town after losing to Shelton (Ala.) State Community College in the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.

Jefferson (Mo.) College bowed out of the tournament Wednesday after making quite an impression during its four games with its bats. That was until Shelton State pitcher Steven Glasgow finally cooled them with his sinker.

The loss left the Vikings short of what they thought was an attainable goal: The JUCO championship. Like every team that leaves Grand Junction without the title, though, the Vikings had a season to remember.

Jefferson coach Sam Carel initially balked at offering final thoughts about the season, saying, “I don’t know. It will come to me at the right time.”

But some of those words came forward a minute later.

“It was a great club,” he said. “We won 53 games this year, the most in school history; did back-to-back World Series, first time in school history; and this (sophomore) class did a tremendous job and left a lasting mark here in this program.”

Fourteen players will move on to other colleges, eight of them headed to NCAA Division I programs.

He also said as many as four Vikings could be selected in the Major League Baseball draft next week: left-handed pitcher Dalton Friend, the 15th-ranked prospect from the junior-college ranks; shortstop Brett Wiley; first baseman Fred Ford; and left-handed pitcher Dan Gronewald.

White Jerseys: Gordon (Ga.) College has become accustomed to being the home team in its first JUCO World Series. As a result, the Highlanders have worn the same home, white jerseys for all three home games through Wednesday night.

It wasn’t a problem for the coaches, who do the laundry, until after they won the coin flip Tuesday night to be the home team against San Jacinto (Texas) College-North.

“I knew the guys would want to wear the same jerseys after we won the flip,” Gordon coach Travis McClanahan said. “I didn’t have to ask.”

The Gordon coaches did the laundry when the team returned to the hotel late Tuesday night.

Cool handles: Currently in contention for the all-name team at this year’s World Series are San Jacinto shortstop Galli Cribbs, Western Nevada first baseman Rayne Raven; and Shelton State first baseman Chase Fields and catcher Brad Sevenish.

Big hitter: Fred Ford, who is 6-foot-5, did his part to get scouts’ attention at the World Series and made his case for a place on the all-tournament team.

Ford’s eight hits in 20 at-bats, three home runs, three doubles, 10 RBI, six runs and 20 total bases all were tournament highs going into Wednesday’s night game. One of his home runs was a grand slam.

The sophomore’s time at Jefferson ended Wednesday, to which he said, “I can say for a fact it’s the best group of guys I ever played with. I had more fun this season than I’ve ever had. There are a lot of great guys in there and guys I’ll be friends with for the rest of my life.”

Making their mark II: Carel spoke of his players making their mark on the Jefferson program, and they also left their mark at the Lincoln Park Sports Complex.

Several of them signed their names on the flagpole behind Suplizio Field’s center field wall and put a Jeffco baseball sticker on it.

They also signed the first row of aluminum bleachers at the shot-put ring nearby. About 20 names adorn it now, and in the middle, written on two lines, it reads “Jeffco Baseball 2012” on the top line, and “Family” underneath it.

All the way back?: Iowa Western is looking to become the first team since 2003 to win the national title after losing its first game of the JUCO World Series. The Community College of Southern Nevada did it then.

First timers: Gordon (Ga.) College is one of three teams in this year’s JUCO World Series making its first appearance, and the Highlanders are the only one of the trio still standing.

Gordon is bidding to become the first team to win the championship in its first trip to the World Series since Chipola (Fla.) College won the national title in its first appearance in 2007.

Purple Wednesday?: Wednesday night is traditionally Hawaiian shirt night for the JUCO Committee and fans. Last year, umpires followed suit. This year, however, they were sporting, light-purple shirts with gray slacks. No word on the review from Mr. Blackwell yet.

Attendance: It was a great afternoon for baseball, but only 2,423 fans attended the contest Wednesday afternoon between Shelton State (Ala.) Community College and Gordon (Ga.) College. The night crowd, however, was 8,106, bringing the total for the day to 10,529.

The five-day total stands at 77,169.


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