One Region 24 member in baseball's Top 20
January 28, 2012By Chet Novak of LAKE LAND COLLEGE
MATTOON--Wabash Valley College was the only Region 24 and Great Rivers Athletic Conference member to land on the NJCAA Baseball Division I opening National Poll for 2012.
With a record of 45-17, WVC garnered a 16th in nation ranking. Only the Top-20 were published; there was no list of junior colleges that had received votes but did not make the top rankings.
NJCAA predictions are for Wabash Valley to finish second in the Northern Division (comprised of Region's 4, 11, and 24). Iowa Western Community College is predicted to finish first. John A. Logan is in the mix as well, predicted to come in third.
The Lakers head into this season in about three weeks, travelling south for a 10-game tour through Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
Head coach Tony Simmonds is in his third season at the helm. In his first season, Simmonds was somewhat of a late hire, with practically no time to recruit, but worked with a team he basically inherited and managed a 14-32-1 season. The previous year, the bulk of that squad was 11-37.
Last season, Simmonds began putting his system in place, the squad's record improving to 24-23, the first time Lake Land has had a winning season since 2004. The additional of several international players seemed to give the Lakers the extra boost needed to break .500.
This season, there is more international flavor in the roster, and serveral players from Florida. You'll find the usual scatter of Illinois recruits, but this time around, there's a heavy dose of local talent.
At the college level, it's not uncommon to find one or maybe two players from nearby towns, but Simmonds has drawn no less than nine players from the region, including one each from Altamont, Teutopolis, and Charleston. Add a couple from Effingham and four from Mattoon, and there's enough to field a team.
The first home game is March 3 versus John A. Logan College, a double header starting at noon.