I really hope the Reds can sign this kid.
By ALLEN GEMAEHLICH
The Daily Sentinel
Sky Smeltzer attended the 1994 Alpine Bank Junior College World Series as an assistant coach at Trinidad State Junior College.
Now, he wants to get once- dominant Yavapai (Ariz.) College program back here this year.
Yavapai (36-8) is ranked third in the latest National Junior College Athletic Association Division I baseball poll, released Wednesday.
“I think (the ranking) is an accumulation of the tradition of the program, the region title we won last year and having 10 players on the team that were drafted,” Smeltzer said Wednesday. “I told the kids we haven’t earned anything yet.
“We have 12 conference games to go, but at some point we’ll have a discussion about the World Series. I have a tape of one of the championship games that (JUCO Chairman) Jamie Hamilton gave me.”
Defending national champion New Mexico Junior College (36-5) remains in the top spot.
Some of the teams right behind them, though, aren’t so familiar.
Gulf Coast (Fla.) Community College (33-5), which hasn’t reached the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series since 1973, is second.
Yavapai hasn’t been to the World Series since its national title run in 1993. Indian Hills (Iowa) Community College (25-2), which reached the World Series two years ago, is fourth and Southern Union State (Ala.) Community College (31-4), which has never qualified, is fifth.
The next five all have recent history in the World Series.
No. 6 Jefferson (Mo.) College qualified in 2002, No. 7 Walters State (Tenn.) Community College has qualified two of the past three years, No. 8 Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College made its only appearance last year, No. 9 Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College reached the World Series last year and No. 10 Spartanburg Methodist (S.C.) College appeared in 2003.
The final 10 teams in the top 20 are Kaskaskia (Ill.) College, Chattanooga State Technical (Tenn.) Community College, Navarro (Texas) College, Dixie State (Utah) College, Iowa Western Community College, Calhoun (Ala.) Community College, Lamar Community College, Alabama Southern Community College, Young Harris (Ga.) College and McLennan (Texas) Community College.
Prior to 1993, Yavapai made five appearances in the World Series and won the 1975 and ’77 national titles under Hall of Fame coach Gary Ward. Smeltzer, a Denver-area native, is the program’s winningest coach.
The 1986 team included current Boston pitcher Curt Schilling.
The Roughriders have five returning players from last year’s regional champion team, including preseason All-Americans Milton Loo and J.R. Murphy.
Loo was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds last summer and is Baseball America’s 2006 junior college preseason player of the year. The shortstop has a .310 batting average and 37 RBI. Murphy, a left-handed pitcher, is 6-1 with a 1.21 earned-run average. He’s struck out 78 batters in 59 innings.
Yavapai’s roster includes Durango’s T.J. Stastny and 2005 JUCO speaker Goose Gossage’s nephew, Kevin Gossage.
Both are freshmen.