Although meaningless in the big scheme of things, for the Western Oklahoma State College baseball team to be ranked #1 in the NJCAA pre-season poll shows just how much this program is respected across the country.
The Pioneers enter this season with the most bitter of all tastes in their collective mouths. The returning Pioneers from the 2015 season got to experience heartbreak from a baseball standpoint that is not easily to overcome.
The Pioneers last took the field in meaningful competition in the finals of the NJCAA World Series and they looked like the second title in school history would be theirs.
The Pioneers had run over almost every team in their path in the Regionals, Super-Regionals and the World Series. Even in the championship game, the Pioneers enjoyed a semi-comfortable lead and were needing not only one more out to win it all, they needed just one more pitch.
What happened then is a typical baseball thing that only baseball people would understand. No matter how dominant a team is, once things start going the other team’s way there is little to nothing your team can do to stop it.
I new coach Russell was hurting as well as the other coaches and players. I tried to be gentle in my approach. I really didn’t want to even bring it up but it’s my job and I tried.
Before I even had a chance to bring it up, Russell proclaimed, “I don’t even want to talk about it.”
Being ranked #1 in the pre-season is nice. However, it does little for your confidence. It goes along way to pushing arrogance and frankly a #1 ranking comes with a target on the back of the ones that rank so high.
Pioneers know there is work to do, and believe it or not, they play Feb. 8. It’s almost baseball season.
Good luck fellas.
On Friday, the Pioneers will induct Andrelton Simmons, former Atlanta Braves Gold-Glove shortstop and new member of the Los Angeles Angels into the Western Oklahoma State College Hall of Fame.
Then on Saturday the Pioneers will have a meet-and-greet with Simmons from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., followed by a basketball game between the world traveling Harlem Ambassadors and the Home-town All-Stars.
Reach Brad Gilbert@482-1221 ext. 2076