The CVCC Red Hawks baseball team will start the season with their highest starting rank in program history as third in the initial poll of the 2016 season. The Red Hawks were also chosen to finish first in the Southeast predictions released by the NJCAA.
The previous highest ranking for the Red Hawks was sixth in the initial poll of the 2014 season. The third place ranking ties the programs highest ranking, who will start the seventh year of intercollegiate competition this season. The Red Hawks achieved a third place ranking once before in the second poll of the 2014 season after an 11-2 start.
"It is very nice to be recognized by the NJCAA, but we know this preseason ranking is based off the performance of last year's team," stated Head Coach, Paul Rozzelle. "The only problem is this year is almost a whole new group of guys. Last year's group is gone."
"This team still has a long way to go to be on the level of the World Series teams we have had here at Catawba Valley," said Coach Rozzelle. "Can we get there? 100% absolutely. I am very excited about the talent this group has, but we have to know that it is a long season. Our ultimate goal is to be playing the best baseball going into the Region X and Southeast District Tournament."
The Red Hawks will return six players from the World Series roster and ten players who saw action in the 2015 season. The 2015 team finished on a roll going 30-7 to cap off a 39-19 record and claiming their fourth straight conference title. The Red Hawks went on to win the Region X and Southeast District Championship to claim the programs 2nd trip to the NJCAA World Series.
At the World Series the Red Hawks fell in the first game against eventual runner-up Western Oklahoma. The Red Hawks then went on to win the next three games finishing third, the best World Series finish for the Red Hawks who finished fifth in 2013.
"The ranking signifies that the program is continuing in the right direction, but we have to do our part with the product on the field," said Coach Rozzelle. "However, I think our players are up to the challenge."
The Red Hawks start their season this weekend traveling to DI opponent USC Sumter in a three game series. The first home game of the season will be a double header against USC Lancaster on Saturday, February 6th starting at 1:00pm. All of CVCC's home baseball games are played at Henkle Alley Field on the Legion Fairgrounds. For the complete baseball schedule go to the CVCC Red Hawks website at GoCVCC.com.