Bobcats prepare for Region 23 Tournament
Written By: Shawn Wansley
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date Submitted: 2011-05-18 13:39:30
By Shawn Wansley
JCJC Sports Information Director
ELLISVILLE – The Jones County Junior College Bobcats were ecstatic about capturing the MACJC state championship on their home field of Community Bank Park last Sunday.
But now they want a little more.
“We don’t want to stop playing,” said third-year head baseball coach Christian Ostrander. “Every time these guys break it down, they say ‘family’ and they feel like a family. We don’t want to break this family up just yet. We want to keep this family going and we are looking forward to the opportunity in the regional.”
The 13th-ranked Bobcats will enter the Region 23 Tournament on Thursday as the top-seed and will take on the host Holmes Community College Bulldogs, the No. 4 seed, at 6 p.m. at Charlie Donald Field in Goodman.
The tournament begins at 2 p.m. on Thursday with the second-seeded Northwest Mississippi Community College Rangers facing the third-seeded and defending national champion LSU-Eunice Bengals.
Ostrander’s Bobcats have posted a 38-14 record, tying the school record for victories, which was set last year. They won the state championship by beating Northwest 7-0, Holmes 6-1 and Northwest again, 11-6.
The team has won 11 of its last 12 games and is 23-5 since March 22.
Ostrander has guided the Bobcats to a 112-42 record during his three seasons at JCJC, but he is quick to praise several others for the success of the program
“It’s definitely gratifying, but all of the credit goes to the players,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to have great, great players with great character who have bought in to what we are trying to do.
“We try to play the game hard and play it the right way. I appreciate them and I appreciate the support of (school president) Dr. (Jesse) Smith, the Board (of Trustees) and Katie Herrington, our athletic director. It’s a group effort here.”
JCJC has been hitting on all cylinders for the latter part of the season.
The Bobcats own a 2.74 team earned run average and a .312 team batting average.
Leading the pitching corps is Stringer sophomore Andrew Pierce. Pierce owns a 10-1 record and a sterling 1.26 ERA. He has 107 strikeouts in 93 innings, has given up 55 hits and has only walked 10.
He threw a three-hit shutout vs. Northwest and came on to pitch the final inning of Sunday’s clinching contest.
“What a phenomenal two years he has had here for us,” Ostrander said of the Southern Miss signee. “It was kind of fitting for him to be on the mound to get those last three outs for the state championship. But it’s everybody. All of these sophomores have done so much for us and they have been a part of so much.”
West Jones freshman Vito Perna tossed a five-hitter with 10 strikeouts in the victory over Holmes. Perna is 9-1 with a 2.31 ERA and has 63 strikeouts in 66 1/3 innings. Kenner, La., freshman Logan Riddell got the victory on Sunday vs. the Rangers to improve his record to 9-4.
Offensively, Perna continues to lead the team in batting average (.366), home runs (six) and RBIs (47). Leadoff batter Zach Allen of Pascagoula is hitting .348, while West Jones sophomore Chase Headrick has boosted his average several points in recent weeks. He is now the third leading hitter at .329 after ripping a pair of home runs in Sunday’s contest.
Catcher Ryan Roberts of Birmingham, Ala., is hitting .323, while Taylorsville sophomore Darion Hamilton is at .321. Gulfport sophomore Ladd Rhodes hits .320, while Sumrall freshman Chad Guice is at .317. Gulfport sophomore Nick Ray is at .285, while Pascagoula sophomore Graham Odom hits .270.
The Bobcats are familiar with the homestanding Bulldogs and the Rangers, having played both of them in the regular and in the state tournament. Holmes is 30-17, while Northwest is 31-19. LSU-Eunice is ranked third in the nation and owns a 43-13. The Bengals have won the national title three of the past five years.
All JCJC games in the tournament will be audiocast on www.jcjc.tv.
Region 23 Tournament
At Holmes Community College
Charlie Donald Field
Game 1, LSU-Eunice vs. Northwest, 2 p.m.
Game 2, Jones County vs. Holmes, 6 p.m.
Game 3, Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 11 a.m.
Game 4, Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 2:30 p.m.
Game 5, Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser, 6 p.m.
Game 6, Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 2 p.m.
Game 7, if necessary, 30 minutes after Game 6
Winner advances to NJCAA Division II World Series in Enid, Okla.