Red Hawks finish 10th in final JBB DII national rankings

Red Hawks finish 10th in final JBB DII national rankings

HICKORY, N.C. — The Catawba Valley Community College baseball team has been ranked in the final top 10 nationally by the JuCo Baseball Blog (JBB).

The rankings, which were released on Monday, placed the Red Hawks in 10th among National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II programs.

"Obviously this isn't how anyone wanted the season to end and a ranking doesn't mean anything, but with everything that transpired with the season being cancelled, you look to find positives when it seemed like negatives were everywhere," said CVCC head baseball coach Paul Rozzelle. "For this group to be acknowledged by the JuCo Baseball Blog, which does an unbelievable job for junior college baseball, it is a positive that we will embrace. This was a special group and this time certainly will be remembered for the rest of our player's lives and at least they have the confirmation that their efforts were being noticed. Thank you to Noah Sharp and the JBB for pushing junior college baseball and highlighting just how great it is."

Catawba Valley finished its pandemic-shortened 2020 season with 12-5 overall record, including a 7-2 mark in Region 10 play.

The Red Hawks also ended the season ranked in the top 10 nationally in nine offensive categories and seven pitching categories.

"It was good group of guys," said sophomore captain Ryan Healy, a Lenoir-Rhyne signee. "We had a lot of fun playing together, and it never felt like there was any pressure. We knew we were gonna get good pitching from the starters and pen and we knew we were gonna hit. I think the most important thing though was how we always played together it didn't matter if it was mid week or weekend the energy was always the same and we were always just having fun playing with one and other."

Sophomore captain and outfielder Jackson Brown believed the 2020 Red Hawks baseball team was going to be special, especially by just how it geared up for the season this past fall.

"All of the workouts that we went through and long practices brought us together, and we knew we were really good," Brown said. "We wanted to win for each other. This team was the definition of selfless. I feel as if we were just getting started, and I had big expectations for this year."

On the mound, CVCC pitchers combined to throw three no hitters in the first nine games of the season, including one by right-handed captain Andrew Patrick and two by sophomore right-hander Blake Dockery, who was named NJCAA Player of the Week for his second no-hit performance.

Patrick believes a lot of his team's success came from its unselflish nature.

"The drive and the focus was apparent on this team more than any team I've ever been a part of," said Patrick, who has signed to continue his academic and athletic careers at Lenoir-Rhyne this fall. "As much as I know all of us would have liked to be getting ready to ride a bus to the World Series in Oklahoma, it wasn't a lost season. The memories I made with my teammates and the way they pushed me and the way they were there for me when I fractured two bones in my face and had a concussion in the fall is what I'll remember more than any result that we could have achieved."

Greater than any stat on the field, more than 10 CVCC baseball players have already signed to compete at the next level with many more left to make their four-year college decision.

Sophomore captain and left-handed pitcher Storm Mace, who has signed to continue his career at Radford University (Va.), said the 2020 Red Hawks will be remembered for more than what they did on the field.

"We are obviously proud of the record we had and the stats we were putting up, but I think one of things that we were most proud of was how early we all connected and the good vibe that was going around the whole team," said sophomore captain Storm Mace. "It really felt like a family."

Despite how the 2020 season ended, the Red Hawks are excited about their returning baseball players and the new additions coming into the program — all of whom will try to help build yet another successful season in 2021.