JDCC baseball coach Blevins recaps state tourney and 2014 seasonPublished 5:15am Wednesday, May 21, 2014
From fourth place in their own division to fourth place in the entire state of Alabama: That’s what the Jefferson Davis Community College Warhawk baseball team did last Tuesday as they finished fourth in the state after falling to Alabama Southern 11-0. The loss finished JDCC 24-24 overall for the season.
In the game Tuesday Garrett Davis took the loss on the mound for the Warhawks as he went three innings and allowed eight hits, five runs, three earned, walked one and struck out one.
Tyler Henry went four innings and allowed nine hits, six runs, three earned, walked one, hit one and struck out one.
At the plate, Dake Rivers went 2-for-3 along with John-Mark Cosby. Michael Fox went 1-for-3 with a double while Tanner Zant and Brandon Goins were both 1-for-2.
The game for JDCC was their fifth straight at the state tourney. The Warhawks posted a 3-2 record in the tournament after dropping their first game to Shelton State on Friday. The loss to Alabama Southern was JDCC’s fifth in six games against the Eagles this season.
Alabama Southern went on to defeat Faulkner State later in the day Tuesday by a score of 12-4 to clinch a spot in the title game Wednesday against Chatt. Valley.
Chattahoochee Valley defeated the Alabama Southern Eagles 11-5 in the championship of the Alabama Community College Conference Tournament Thursday afternoon.
Chattahoochee Valley Pirates of Phenix City will now head to Grand Junction, CO to compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series.
JDCC head coach Darrell Blevins said his team’s trip to the state tournament was a blast.
“Of course everyone, (each team in the state of Alabama), sets making the State Tournament as their goal at the beginning of the year,” Blevins said. “We do it, we have done it in the past and we will do it in the future as well. We all understand that this is the benchmark of a good team for that year. If you can make it into the tournament, you have a pretty good squad. We also know that if you make it into the tournament, with the current double elimination format, you could have a chance to win the tournament as well. And, if you do happen to win our State Tournament, the winner gets an automatic birth in the NJCAA Division I World Series, which is held in Grand Junction, Colorado.”
Blevins said he thought this year’s tournament spoke volumes for just how good the Southern Division really is as after the tournament, the number two, number three, and number four teams were all from our Southern Division. Alabama Southern was number two, Faulkner State was number three, and Jeff Davis was number four respectively.
“The winner of the tournament (Chattahoochee Valley Community College) from Phenix City, well they have only been ranked in the top ten in the country basically all year and have held the number one spot in the nation for most of the year,” Blevins said. “That makes for some pretty good baseball at an extremely high level of play throughout the year for our state. I think it is awesome that number two, number three, and number four can basically be found within a radius of about 40 to 50 miles from each other. They are all good players, good programs, good institutions, and great people.”
Blevins said as for the 2014 Warhawk team specifically, he is extremely proud of his players and proud for his players.
“Needless to say our beginning was not as enjoyable as our ending,” he said. “With a slow start, partially due to injuries, and more specifically due to the weather experienced in January and February, we could not get our team to the point where we were comfortable and in sync. One part of our game would be good one day with the other two or three parts of our game not so good. However, our guys kept plugging, kept working to get better, and would not give in. I think that is a tribute to the type people we have here at Jeff Davis.”
Blevins said when the weather broke and they could get on the field for more than one day at a time, he could see them begin to turn.
“Confidence began to grow, individual play got better, and the phases of our game began to compliment each other,” he said. “For instance good defense would accompany good pitching and good base running would compliment a good offensive day. The thing was, the kids began to see it and feel it.”
Blevins said when the team finally got up to full speed at the beginning of March, the team began to run on all cylinders,” he said. ‘We were able to play extremely good baseball at a very high level of play and were getting contributions from most everyone on the team. It was really fun to watch as these guys came together and would rely on each other as we chased another victory. As it would be the kids would keep it rolling for a long, long time throughout the rest of the season. We began to know that we were close to getting a birth in the State Tournament with a few weeks left in the season. At this point, the kids would not let themselves be denied this opportunity. We had been knocking on the door the previous two years only to be denied on the last day of play in 2013 and because of a tiebreaker ruling in 2012. That would not be the case this year. Needless to say, when we received the official word that we were in the tournament, we had some really excited kids.”
Upon getting to the tournament, Blevins said he knew that his team could have a good tournament if they played together as a team.
“We had already played most everyone at the tournament earlier during the year and had an idea of where we stood and what we would have to do to be successful,” he said. “I believe the biggest obstacle we faced in the tournament was the possible mental letdown after our first game with Shelton State. In that game, both teams played extremely well. When we would put pressure on Shelton, they responded, when they put pressure on us our team responded. It was a really great game. Although we came out of that game with a 3-1 loss, we knew that we could not dwell on the score of that game because we would have to play an elimination game in less than 24 hours versus Calhoun Community College from Decatur. So our players proceeded to flush any negative thoughts about the Shelton game and got themselves prepared for the next day.”
Blevins said over the next three days, the Warhawks would go on to eliminate all three tournament representatives form the Northern Division in Calhoun Community College in Snead State Community College, and Shelton State.
“It was really good baseball,” he said. “On Tuesday, in what would be the quarterfinals, we would run into a red hot Alabama Southern squad. We, being low on pitching and a little slower from having to play five days straight would see our season come to a close. When you are fortunate enough to make it that far in playoff play, it is natural to be a little disappointed in the day’s loss. And, our team most definitely was. However, on the bus ride back that night, I began to play back the events of the season from start to finish.”
Blevins said the 2014 team is a group who grew throughout the year, from August until May.
“Everyone can see the accomplishments that these individuals achieved on the field, but what people on the outside cannot see is how this group of players grew off the field,” he said. “For instance, at the end of Fall semester, we had several kids who had really struggled academically during the Fall semester and almost did not make grades high enough to be eligible for the Spring semester. They were literally on the bubble. Now they did make their grades, but just barely. Thus when we returned in the Spring we established additional measures to help them stay on track. Additional study halls, additional library hours, more communications with instructors, and encouraged them to take a more proactive role in their pursuit of better grades. Thankfully, the kids bought into how important their academics really are, and collectively, the team made better grades in the Spring semester with everything going on than they did during the Fall semester when it is not quite so busy.”
While the team grew together with better grades, Blevins said the guys grew in maturity as well.
We constantly speak with our clubs about making the most of the opportunities that are presented to us, and how to handle the successes when they occur as well as the failures when we encounter them,” he said. “This group did a good job of both. They really showed some humility when they won, and they won some big games against some top notch teams. And when we came up a little short, they showed some character in that they would not point fingers and try to blame someone else, they would not make excuses, they accepted responsibility for what happened, they held each other accountable and kept their expectations alive. This type of holding each other accountable and to a specific standard resonated to how they handled themselves off the field and in the class room as well. This is what every coach desires from his teams. Fortunately we were able to experience this from this squad.”
Blevins said it was a good year for the Warhawk baseball program.
“If one only looks at win/loss records, 24 wins and 24 losses is not good,” he said. “And I agree, if you only look at wins and losses. However, the development that is taking place within each of these individuals is absolutely incredible. They are becoming better students, better baseball players, and better people without question. I am equally as proud about their personal development and academic development as I am about their athletic development and successes. It is fun to see and pleasing to know that our program and our institution is doing so many positive things to help the development of these kids. I myself am truly thankful for them and proud for them.”