MOREHEAD CITY, NC – The Catawba Valley Community College Red Hawks baseball team will kick off their postseason on Friday, May 12 as the number five seed the in the NJCAA Region 10 DII Southeast District Tournament. The tournament will be played on Friday, May 12 through Tuesday, May 16 at Big Rock Stadium in Morehead, NC; home of the Coastal Plains League Morehead Marlins.
The Red Hawks who finished 16-10 in conference action and 29-23 overall, will take on the number four seed Patrick Henry Community College (VA) at 4:00pm. Patrick Henry finished 19-8 in the conference and 34-20 overall, however the Red Hawks won two of three games at Patrick Henry earlier in the season.
"At this point you have to throw the regular season out the window," said Head Coach Paul Rozzelle. "We are starting to play our best baseball and our guys know they need to play their best to win. It is a brand new season and we have a great chance to win this tournament and go back to the World Series."
The Red Hawks who finished third in the 2015 World Series will look to make a return trip after falling in the semifinals last year to Patrick Henry in an elimination game. Since the start of April the Red Hawks have been playing some of their best baseball going 13-5 and are 8-1 in their last 9 games.
"The start of the season was rough and this team was trying to find their place," said Rozzelle. "Once we got into April the team really stepped it up and we are playing our best baseball at the right time."
The Red Hawks are led by their impressive offensive numbers on the season. Sitting at seventh in the nation with 57 homeruns the Red Hawks have hit 721 total bases (24th in the nation), 146 extra base hits (29th in the nation) and 304 runs batted in (33rd in the nation). Sophomore, Chandler Jenkins (West Lincoln HS), has been the main catalyst currently in the batters box. Jenkins currently sits in the top 5 of the nation in 6 offensive categories, posting 157 total bases (1st in the nation), 18 homeruns (2nd in the nation), 72 runs batted in (2nd in the nation), 82 hits (2nd in the nation), a .913 slugging percentage (3rd in the nation) and a .477 batting average (5th in the nation). Jenkins is complemented by fellow sophomore Riley Smith (Alexander Central HS) who is hitting .308 with 10 homeruns on the season and 41 runs batted in. Four freshman, David Graves, Daniel Brinegar, Graham Mitchell and Jimmy Marcelli, help give the Red Hawks 6 bats hitting over .300 in the regular lineup.
"The offense is where it starts for us," said Rozzelle. "We have a team that is a threat to hit from top to bottom and multiple guys who are able to come off the bench and get a big hit when we need it."
The Red Hawks have also produced solid pitching this season. Posting a team ERA of 4.78, the third best in the conference, the Red Hawks have posted 8 shutouts which is 7th best in the nation. Sophomore, Cole Whitney has posted a 2.56 ERA while throwing 81.0 innings (6th in the nation) and posting an 8-2 record (12th most wins in the nation). Whitney has logged 93 strikeouts which is the second most in the nation while averaging 10.33 strikeouts per game (38th in the nation).
"The pitching is always premium in a tournament and I truly feel our pitching staff is one of the deepest in the region if not the country," said Rozzelle. "We have a solid group of sophomores who know the pressure and freshman who have learned over the course of the season what it takes to be a college pitcher. I know I have a group of guys that want the ball and will be ready to go when called upon."
The Red Hawks baseball team will practice today on the field before preparing to play their first round matchup tomorrow. The tournament is a double elimination tournament format with the winner of the tournament earning a spot at the 2017 NJCAA Division II World Series at David Allen Memorial Ballpark in Enid, Oklahoma on May 27 through June 3. You can follow the Red Hawks on their website at www.GoCVCC.com or on Twitter at CVCC_RedHawks. For complete tournament information you can visit the Region 10 website at www.Region10Sports.com.
Complete NJCAA Region 10 DII Southeast District Tournament Schedule:
Friday, May 12
Game 1: #3 ASA College - Miami (FL) vs. #6 Wake Tech CC (NC) at 10:00am
Game 2: #2 Brunswick CC (NC) vs. #7 Guilford Tech CC (NC) at 1:00pm
Game 3: #4 Patrick Henry CC (VA) vs. #5 Catawba Valley CC at 4:00pm
Game 4: #1 Pitt CC (NC) vs. #8 Bryant & Stratton College (VA) at 7:00pm
Saturday, May 13
Game 5: Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser at 10:00am
Game 6: Game 3 Loser vs. Game 4 Loser at 1:00pm
Game 7: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner at 4:00pm
Game 8: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner at 7:00pm
Sunday, May 14
Game 9: Game 6 Winner vs. Game 7 Loser at 10:00am
Game 10: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 8 Loser at 1:00pm
Game 11: Game 7 Winner vs. Game 8 Winner at 4:00pm
Game 12: Game 9 Winner vs. Game 10 Winner at 7:00pm
Monday, May 15
Game: 13: Game 11 Loser vs. Game 12 Winner at 3:00pm
Championship Game: Winner Game 11 vs. Winner Game 13 at 7:00pm
Tuesday, May 16
If Necessary Game (If Winner of Game 11 loses in Game 14) at 1:00pm