Another year another group of teams make their way to the western part of Colorado. This years group has 5 teams make their second consecutive trip with on making their third. With on newcomers this field there are a total of 71 trips to the World Series and 13 National Titles.
Here is a quick look at how each team punched their ticket to Grand Junction. As well as the Bracket as well as a prediction as to who will end up on top when all is said and done.
#4 Cowley (45-12)
Cowley is making their 3rd trip in the last 4 years to Grand Junction. This season they had a 26-6 Conference record. After going 2 and 1 in their opening round of the KJCCC Tournament against Pratt (5-2,13-6, 15-1). Once they got into the Tournament they swept thier way to the Region 6 and Central District Title. They beat Cloud (8-0), Barton (10-2), Colby (10-1) and took the Title with a win over Hutchinson (14-1).
Leading their offense this season has been Cody Milligan (Southern Miss), Daniel Desimone, and Logan Steenstra. Milligan has been one of the top hitters in the country this season. He is hitting .449 (12th), with 17 Doublers, 6 Triples, 5 Home Runs, 56 RBI’s, 80 Runs (5th), 27 Stolen Bases, 89 Hits (9th), and 52 Walks (6th). Desimone is hitting .341 with 15 Doubles, leads the team with 10 Home Runs, 56 RBI’s, and 51 Runs. Steenstra closes out the trio hitting .300 with 7 Doubles, 2 Triples, 2 Home Runs, 42 RBI’s and 39 Runs.
On the mound for them this season the three biggest contributors have been Cole Larsen (Kansas) (9-2, 4.39 ERA, 11.04 K/9), Andrew Roach (UNC Charlotte) (8-3, 3.90 ERA, 10.30 K/9), and Brannon Jordan (South Carolina)(9-2, 1.43 ERA, 12.07 K/9). Those three have combined for 41 stars and have pithed 189 Innings over the course of the season.
#5 Chipola (38-18)
For the third straight year Chipola makes it out of Florida. Their hopes for a three-peat are still intact. They made quick work of the Florida state playoffs beating Santa Fe (8-7), Northwest Florida (6-3), State College of Florida (10-0). Then lost Northwest Florida in the first game of the finals 10-7 before taking the winner take all championship 14-6.
The offense for them this season has been lead by the trio of Cameron Gray, Ivan Johnson (South Carolina), and Connor Kehl. Gray is hitting .325 with 11 Doubles, 2 Homer Runs, 42 RBI’s, 41 Runs. Gray however, has also been one of the go to pitchers for Chipola this season. In his 16 Appearances he has mad 11 starts with a 5-2 record and a 3.83 ERA. Johnson was one of the major contributors to last years National Title and picked up where he left off. He has hit .389 this season with 10 Doubles, a Triple, 9 Home Runs, 49 RBI’s 52 Runs, and 13 Stolen Bases. Rounding out the trio is Kehl. He is hitting .351 with 12 Doubles, a Triple, 2 Home Runs, 29 RBIs and 34 Runs.
On the mound this season other than Gray two of their biggest contributors have been Andrew Baker who has mad 25 App with a 2-1 record and 7 saves. The other big contributor has been Parker Pillsbury who has mad 12 starts with a 4-1 record and a 5.31 ERA.
#16 Chattahoochee Valley (35-18)
Chattahoochee Valley is yet another team making it back to Grand Junction this year. Sweeping their way through the Region 22 Playoffs beating Wallace State (7-2), Wallace-Dothan (7-4), Lawson State (5-4), and Lurleen B. Wallace (9-8).
They have been offensive led by the trio of Kale Ledford, Jason Rooks, and Davis Schwartz. Ledford is hitting .337 with 13 Doubles, 2 Home Runs, 39 RBI’s and 25 Runs. Rooks is hitting .346 with 12 Doubles, a Triple, 8 Home Runs, 34 RBI’s 34 Runs, and 12 Stolen Bases. Schwartz rounds out the trio hitting a team leading .373 with 6 Doubles, 3 Triples, 1 Home Run, 21 RBI’s, 44 Runs, and 15 Stolen Bases.
On the mound for them this season they have used Chase Patrick (Mississippi State) (8-4, 5 CG, 3.03 ERA) and Jordan Armstrong (8-3, 3.15 ERA).
#19 Navarro (38-16)
Navarro is making their first trip back to Grand Junction since 2013. They are riding a 9 Game win-streak heading into the world series with 4 coming in the Region 14 Playoffs where they beat Laredo (11-3), Angelina (13-3), Panola (5-2), and Blinn (14-7).
Their offence this season has been led by the trio of Cash Rugely, Stacey Bailey, and Kyle Landers (New Mexico). Rugely leads the team hitting .411 with 13 Doubles, 2 Triples, 6 Home Runs, 32 RBI’s, 50 Runs, and 12 Stolen Bases. Bailey is hitting .326, leading the team in both Doubles with 15 and Home runs with 9. He also has a Triple, 64 RBIs and 41 Runs. Landers finishes out the trio hitting .317 with 12 Doubles, 3 Home Runs, 42 RBI’s 45 Runs, and 22 Stolen Bases.
On the mound for them this season the leaders have been Carson Rollins (9-0, 2.74 ERA), Austin Faith (7-4, 3.89 ERA), and Pepper Jones (UTSA) (1-2, 9 Saves, 3.91 ERA)(
#14 New Mexico (42-15)
Coming out of the juggernaut that is Region 5 this year is New Mexico. They finished second this year in the WJCAC with a 27-9 record just a game behind Midland. Once they made it to San Angelo however they road a quick 4 day 4 game win streak to send the T-Birds back to Grand Junction for the first time since 2007. In those 4 games they played Hill (8-4), Grayson (8-7), and McLennan (9-1, 14-11).
New Mexico as a team this year has gone under the radar by a lot of people. They are ranked in the top 10 in 10 different offensive categories: 10th in Doubles (126), 8th in RBI’s (441), 7th in Average (.349), 6th in Hits (607), Triples (32), and Home Runs (77), 4th in Slugging % (.592), 3rd in Extra Base Hits (235), and 2nd in Total Bases (1028).
Leading this offense for them this season has been the trio of Daniel Hernandez, Adrian Torres, and Rody Barker. Hernandez leads the team hitting .424 with 86 hits (5th), 13 Doubles, 4 Triples, 8 Home Runs, 52 RBI’s, 58 Runs, and 13 Stolen Bases. Torres is hitting .346 with 13 Doubles, 2 Triples, a team leading 11 Home Runs, 42 RBI’s, 56 Runs, and 12 Stolen Bases. Barker is hitting .413 with 18 Doubles, 4 Triples, 8 Home Runs, 43 RBI’s, 66 Runs, and 9 Stolen Bases.
On the Mound for New Mexico this season they have posted a staff ERA of 4.95 with an opponent average of .274. Leading the staff for them this season has been the combination for Ty Stephenson (7-2, 3.48 ERA, 6 Complete Games)(Lubbock Christian) and Mark Barillas (8-1, 3.54 ERA)
#1 Walters State (52-9)
Walters is another school making back for consecutive trips to Grand Junction. After falling just short last year in the National Championship they are looking to finish on top this year. This years path though was a bit tougher. They swept their way through their distaract beating Volunteer STate (9-2), Chattanooga State (17-9) and Jackson State twice (7-2, 4-1); before facing one of the top teams in the country this year in Gordon State who they took both games 5-2 and 5-4.
Walters has been one of the top all-around teams this season. They are ranked in the top 10 in 16 different categories across both hitting and pitching stats. On the offensive side they are ranked 10th in Average (.347), 9th in Slugging (.550), 8th in Home Runs (74), 7th in Extra Base Hits (223), 4th in At Bats (1875), Hits (651), Total Bases (1032), and Doubles (139), and 2nd in Runs (573), RBI’s (527). On the mound they are ranked 9th in K/9 (11.51), 7th in Hits Allowed (287), 5th in Earned Runs (116), Strike Outs (566), 3rd in ERA (2.36), and 1st in Runs Allowed (142),
Leading that offense this season has been by Bryce Hodge, Jerry Hammons, and Brayden Combs. Hodge is leading the team hitting .419 with 15 Doubles, 12 Home Runs, 65 RBI’s 55 Runs and 12 Stolen Bases. Hammons is just behind his teammate hitting .403 with 85 Hits (9th), 18 Doubles, 12 Home Runs, 54 RBI’s, 74 Runs (8th), and 11 Stolen Bases. Closing out those three is Combs. He is hitting .376 with 16 Doubles, 13 Home Runs, 76 RBI’s (4th), and 57 Runs.
On the mound for them the leaders have been Alex Hayes (Tennessee) (9-2, 6 CG (9th), 3 Shutouts (4th), 1.94 ERA) and Corey Stone (9-2, 2.35 ERA)
#21 Monroe (NY) (32-17)
For the second straight year Monroe is making the roughly 2000 mile trip to Grand Junction. Monroe started off on a rough stretch this season traveling south to play the likes of San Jac and LSU-Eunice to name a few. They however wrap up the season on a 11 Game win streak. Sweeping both their Regional vs ASA Brooklyn (3-1, 7-4, 10-4) and their Distract against Harford (14-2), Potomac State (6-1) and Spartanburg Methodist (8-3).
Leading the Mustang offense this season has been the trio of Daniel Alonzo, Joseph Encarnacion, and Neifi Mercedes. Alfonzo leads the team hitting .357 with 11 Doubles, 1 Triple, 9 Home Runs, 39 RBI’s, and 33 Runs. Encarnacion is hitting .315 with 12 Doubles, 2 Triples, 5 Home Runs, 36 RBI’s and 30 Runs. Mercedes rounds out the trio hitting .280 with a team leading 15 Doubles, 2 Triples, 1 Home Run, 21 RBI’s and 27 Runs.
Two of their biggest contributors on the mound this season have been July Sosa (6-2, 2.04 ERA, 14.38 K/9), and Brandon Backman (8-2, 2.64 ERA, 13.50 K/9).
#6 Connors State (48-11)
Since the post season has started Connors has lost one game which was in the second round of the Region 2 Tournament. They started with a win over Eastern Oklahoma (8-4), then lost to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M (6-4); then has rattled off 7 straight beating Eastern Oklahoma (4-3), Seminole (21-15), Northeastern Oklahoma twice (14-12, 8-6). Then traveled to Neosho, MO and took all three games there beating Delgado (15-0), Crowder (9-6), and then Delgado again for the Distract Title (16-14).
Offensively they are one of the top teams in the country. They are ranked 9th in Doubles (132),8th in Sac Flies (32) 7th in At Bats (1862), and Hits (623), 5th in On Base % (.506), 4th in Runs (556) and Walks (354), and 3rd in RBI’s (505),
Leading that offense this season they have been lead by David Mendham, Chris Mondesi, and Jake Womack. Mendham leads the team hitting .421 with 91 Hits (4th), 17 Doubles, 1 Triple, 14 Home Runs, 84 RBI’s (2nd), 69 Runs, and 54 Walks (4th). Mondesi is hitting .292 with 17 Doubles, 4 Home Runs, 62 RBI’s, and 54 Runs. Rounding out the trio is Womack, who is hitting .412 with 20 Doubles, 14 Home Runs, 80 RBI’s, and 72 Runs.
Leading their staff this season has been Bryan Martinez who is 8-4 with 7 complete games and 3.39 ERA. Out of the pen for them this season there weapon of choice has been Secundino Morales who has a 5-0 record with 6 saves in 22 apparence. With a 4.33 ERA and a 10.72 K/9.
#8 Central Arizona (42-15)
Some could argue that Central Arizona has had the Toughest road to get to Grand Junction. They barely got the 4 seed in the thier Regional Tournament. They started their post season run with a sweep of Cochise in the opening round (7-3, 13-2), before taking the Region 1 Crown from Yavapai in 3 games losing the first one (8-1), before taking the last two (7-6, 7-4). After this they traveled up to Colorado for the Western District Title where they swept it beating Lamar (20-5) and then taking two from Southern Nevada, one in the second round (13-5) and then one to claim the District Title (16-7).
When looking at their offensive numbers they are hitting .284 as a team with a .385 On Base and .484 Slugging. But do not let that fool you. They play their entire regular season with wood bats. Outside of those 3 numbers they are 15th in Extra Base Hits, Stolen Bases, and Total Bases, 13th in Hits, 12th in Doubles, 10th in Triples, 4th in Sac Flies, and 1st in At Bats.
Leading that offense for them this season has been Ernny Ordonez (Kansas), Zach Hogueisson, Hunter Jump (UC-Santa Barbara). Ordonez leads the team hitting .327 with 19 Doubles, 3 Triples, 7 Home Runs, 62 RBI’s, 60 Runs, and is leads the country in At Bats with 245. Hogueisson is hitting .313 with 19 Doubles, 1 Triple, 12 Home Runs, 63 RBI’s and 40 Runs. Finishing out the trio is Jump who is hitting .310 with 15 Doubles, 2 Home Runs, 22 RBI’s, 49 Runs, and 15 Stolen Bases.
Central Arizona might have the top starting rotation in the country. Between Avery Jones (San Diego State) (8-4, 3.82 ERA), Lucas Knowles (Kentucky) (8-2, 1.23 ERA), and Jonathan Stroman (New Mexico) (6-4, 5.20 ERA), they pitched a total of 223.1 Innings while striking out 250 batters. Then when you look at the rest of their staff 4 other pitchers have made more than 1 start.
#2 Iowa Western (48-9)
Iowa Western accomplished something that nobody thought could be done this year which was knock off the boheamith that was Wabash Valley in their District Tournament. To get there however they swept their way through their Regional beating Southwestern (14-0), Indian Hills (12-2), and Marshalltown (11-2). Then they headed to District Play where they took game one against Triton (15-5) before taking a huge win from Wabash in the second game (8-7). Then lost the next game against Wabash (11-8) which forced a winner take all District Title game which they won (10-5).
Iowa Western as a team is one of the strongest. They are Hitting .361 as a team which is 3rd in the country, have a .461 On Base % which is 4th and have a Slugging % of .593 with is 3rd. They are also 10th in the country in Triples, Runs, and RBI’s, 6th in Doubles.
Leading that offense this season has been the trio of Cooper Bowman, Caleb Balgaard, Jaden Rolffs. Bowman is hitting .421 with 11 Doubles, 3 Triples, 2 Home Runs, 22 RBI’s, and 78 Runs (7th). Balgaard is hitting .420 with 18 Doubles, 7 Triples, (7th), 4 Home Runs, 66 RBI’s, and 64 Runs. Rounding it out is one of the top hitters in the country right now in Rolff. He is hitting .476 (6th), with a .552 On Base % (9th), and a .862 Slugging % (8th). He has 14 Doubles, 3 Triples, 12 Home Runs, 64 RBI’s and 51 Runs.
As a team though They are ranked 6th in Runs (183), 4th in K/9 (11.94),and 3rd in both Batting Average Against (.192), and Hits Allowed (261),
The Reivers have a trio of starters that will look to continue what they have done all season in Braedyn McLaughlin (8-1, 1.84 ERA, 5 CG, 15.19 K/9 (4th)), Jared Simpson (7-0, 1.95 ERA), and Jordan Bonk (UAB) (7-0), 2.45 ERA).