Article and Photography
by ALICE MARY HERDEN
On May 23 at 6 am the Pasco Hernando State College baseball team will board a plane and travel 1,322 miles to Enid, Oklahoma to play at David Allen Memorial Ballpark in competition for the 2019 NJCAA Division II Baseball World Series Championship Title, but first let us tell you how they got there.
NJCAA DII Southeast District Championship
For four days the Bobcats owned the NJCAA DII Southeast District Championship in Greenville North Carolina, after their loss to Pitt Community College.
“It’s pretty simple; we had a tough draw- drawing the host,” Bobcats Head Baseball Coach Lyndon Coleman said. “We knew they had some pretty good arms and unfortunately some of the pitches that we made, we pitched into some bad situations, and we weren’t successful.”
By that time, it was purely a mental game. Starting out with a loss can break any player’s mental focus, but after that loss, it was time to stand back take it one pitch at a time.
“I told the guys on game two, that if you worry about having to win six (games) in a row, you’re probably going to lose and we’re probably going to be heading home. But if you worry about the next pitch, and that is the only pitch you’re worried about, your going to have a chance. That was our motto, I said before every single game and kept saying it: ’Next pitch, next pitch, next pitch. You can’t worry about the previous pitch. We need to win the next pitch.’”
After taking Wake Technical Community College with a 7-6 win in ten innings it was from there that PHSC experienced some solid wins: Southeastern Community College (12-8), Paul D. Camp Community College (10-5), Pitt Community College (8-0) and finalized the championship takeover with a two-game win 5-2, 6-1 over Brunswick Community College.
The results of this championship show that the push for mental focus was a success.
PHSC’s rival, Catawba College was defeated by Paul D. Camp 12-4 in the District Elimination Quarter Final.
“It was tough, but I think it woke up a lot of the guys and made them realize that we are not going to go up there and blow through these teams. Every team up there has quality players and quality pitching,” Sophomore Brayden Lyman said. “I think more than anything it allowed us to realize if we want to win this, then we have to play a lot better than the first game and from there on out, I think that was the mentality of the team, and it showed on the box score.”
The last time PHSC stepped on Oklahoma soil was in 2014, finishing fourth nationally. It’s the same field, it’s the same goal: to take the championship.
Coach Larry Beets recalled that other organizations wondered how PHSC was able to get to the World Series in 2014. It didn’t discourage Coach Beets, Head Coach Steve Winterling, nor the players. They all were pretty much just happy to be there at that moment and of course gave it all they had.
“You got to enjoy it because there are coaches that have been coaching for years and never made it,” Coach Larry Beets said. “Here we are, twice in the last five years and [that’s] accredited to what Coach Coleman and Coach Holke have done. Last time we went, it was just me and Coach Winterling.”
Baseball College World Series 2014
Sunday, May 25, 2014, PHSC wins the first round against Mercer County 3-2 in a demanding ten innings.
Tuesday, May 27 Hinds takes the winner’s bracket with a 9-4 box score, Wednesday, May 28, Mercer County faces PHSC once again to reclaim win position in the elimination bracket only to be dominated by PHSC 13-3. Then on Thursday, May 29, Madison wins the semifinals to move forward leaving PHSC with a 7-3 loss.
“We’re going this year with the idea of winning it; that’s why you go,” Coach Beets said.
“I wouldn’t have been in this situation if it wasn’t for Steve Winterling,” Coleman remarked.
“Steve Winterling allowed me to recruit this team while he was still a coach here. If it weren’t for that foundation that he left me with, we wouldn’t even be in this situation. A lot of it goes to Steve Winterling.”
The future of the baseball team is a priority for Coach Coleman and on Sunday, May 19 just four days before heading to Oklahoma, PHSC held their eighth spring baseball camp at the west campus complex in New Port Richey. This camp was not only observing talent to add the Bobcat roster but looking for those that have the initiative to further their education at PHSC.
“We are looking for guys to get us back to the (NJCAA Division II Baseball) World Series,” Coleman said.
Over sixty campers participated in this event, and two were from Hernando County, Nature Coast Tech Junior Chase Davis and Springstead Senior Jake Rice.
“I have been talking with the head coach, and I know they are in need of catchers,” Springstead Senior Jake Rice said. “I’m wanting to play the next level and I feel this is a good shot for me and a good JUCO (junior college) is definitely a good way to go for people who haven’t been able to find a good four-year university.”
“I am willing to learn and willing to put in any effort that I can,” Chase Davis, Junior at Nature Coast Tech said.
NJCAA Division II Baseball World Series runs May 24-June 1, you can follow the team on Twitter https://twitter.com/phscbaseball to get updates.