The NJCAA Division II Worlds begins Saturday at David Allen Memorial Ballpark in Enid.
The Western Oklahoma State College Pioneers open defense of the 2011 national championship with a first round game against Grand Rapids, Mich. at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Four games are scheduled for the first day and complete slate is listed below.
Top ranked LSU-Eunice (53-4) rolls in as the tournament favorite. A good omen for the Bengals is they have been tough to beat in even numbered years. Eunice won the title in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
They do face a stiff test in the opening round at noon Sunday when they face fourth ranked Des Moines Area Community College, Iowa.
Also Heartland Community College, Ill.. ranked second; third ranked Lackawanna, Pa.. fifth, Madison. Wisconsin and Western are expected to be strong contenders.
Coach Kurt Russell’s Pioneers ranked sixth in the country come into the tournament with a 44-15 record. Russell said he actually feels better about things going into this year’s World Series than last year.
“I didn’t feel that good about it last year,”Russell said. “We got hot at the end but I thought last year was a rebuilding year and this year we could win it.”
Western has been bothered by several injuries this season but appears to be healthy going into the World Series. Michael Cruz has been plagued with injuries but appears to back in form after leading the country in runs batted in last year. In the four games of he district tournament last week in Dodge City, Kan. Cruz was seven for 14 at the plate with four home runs and 10 runs batted in.
Also leadoff batter Esteban Paula appears to be fully recovered from a hamstring injury.
Russell said one of the keys to be successful in the World Series is not to get caught up in the hype.
“Just play like it’s another game,” he said.
Grand Rapids will take a team batting average of .329 into the tournament and a team ERA of 4.12.
The Pioneers go into the tournament with a team batting average of .348 and a team ERA of 3.36. Western has shown more power with 66 home runs on the season while the Raiders have 10 homers.
Hitting (with at least two at bats)
Esteban Paula .394; Elvis Rodriguez .380, 13 home runs; Sherman Lacrus .373, nine home runs; Michael Cruz .360, 11 home runs.
Erlin Santos (11-2, 2.27), Michaeal Peoples (7-4, 3.33), Skyluar Neal (9-4, 3.34), Frias (4-0, 4.19), Victor Mendez (4-1, 2.35, 10 saves)
Pioneer notes: If Western defeats Grand Rapids they will play the winner of Scottsdale, Ariz. and Lackawanna, Pa. at noon Monday. The loser’s of those games will play at 7 p.m. Sunday. Grand Rapids is ranked 10th in the country and has won the World Series 5 times.
If you like weird nicknames how the Scottsdale “Fighting Artichokes.”
Saturday, May 26
Game 1: Catawba Valley, N.C. (36-15) vs. Heartland, Ill. (51-6) - 9 a.m.
Game 2: CC of Rhode Island (33-11) vs. Madison, Wis. (43-11) - 12 p.m.
Game 3: Scottsdale, Ariz. (38-22) vs. Lackawanna, Pa. (46-10) - 4 p.m.
Game 4: Western Oklahoma (44-15) vs. Grand Rapids, Mich. (39-22) - 7 p.m.
Sunday, May 27
Game 5: LSU Eunice (53-4) vs. Des Moines Iowa (50-13) - 12 p.m.
Game 6: Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser - 3:30 p.m.
Game 7: Game 3 Loser vs. Game 4 Loser - 7 p.m.
Monday, May 28
Game 8: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner - 12 p.m.
Game 9: Game 6 Winner vs. Game 7 Winner - 3:30 p.m.
Game 10: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner - 7 p.m.
Tuesday, May 29
Game 11: Game 5 Loser vs. Game 8 Loser - 12 p.m.
Game 12: Game 9 Winner vs. Game 10 Loser - 3:30 p.m.
Game 13: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 8 Winner - 7 p.m.
Wednesday, May 30
Game 14: Game 11 Winner vs. Game 13 Loser - 3:30 p.m.
Game 15: Game 10 Winner vs. Game 13 Winner - 7 p.m.
Thursday, May 31
Game 16: Game 14 Winner vs. Game 15 Loser - 3:30 p.m.
Game 17: Game 12 Winner vs. Game 15 Winner - 7 p.m.
Friday, June 1
Game 18: NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME* - 7 p.m.
Saturday, June 2
Game 19: IF NECESSARY* - 7 p.m.