Panthers play at 4 p.m. Friday
Coming off a walkoff win in game one and a run-rule shortened game two in the first round against Barton Community College Saturday, the Neosho County Community College baseball team opens the NJCAA Central District baseball tournament at Lawrence Dumont Stadium in Wichita against Dodge City Community College at 4 p.m. Friday.
Neosho enters the tournament 42-14 and is the No. 6 seed. No. 3 seed Dodge City Community College beat No. 14 Labette in the first round and is 37-17 on the season.
“They set a record for the most wins ever in a season,” Head Baseball Coach Steve Murry said about the Conquistadors. “At this point it doesn’t matter. Every team is 0-0 and everybody there can play or they wouldn’t be there.”
The Panthers are clicking at the right time. The Panthers have not dropped or even split a four-game KJCCC East series since being swept by NJCAA No. 1 Cowley Community College in late March. Since dropping that four-game series, Neosho is 21-3.
“I feel like we’re playing good baseball and we’re kind of peaking at the right time,” Murry said. We’ve won a lot of games out of our last 25 and we’re injury free, so time to put the chips where they are and see if we’re good enough to win.”
Pitcher Matt Slauter will start against Dodge City. In the second game of the tournament, Shane Hummel would start if Neosho plays No. 2 seed Cowley and Trent Latta if the Panthers face No. 7 seed Butler Community College. Whoever doesn’t start game two will start game three.
“After that we don’t know because we don’t know who will throw in relief those first three games,” Murry said. “After you get past game three, most teams are scrambling anyway. We have to have some guys step up. guys like Jeremy Mansur and (Tyler) Mitzel and (Josh) Willis. If we’re going to stay in for a while.”
To prepare for the tournament, Murry is not focusing on preparing for particular opponents. He is getting his team ready to play.
“We always preach the opponent is ourself,” Murry said. “You can get real stuck into scouting reports and another team. But if some reason that scouting report is inaccurate and you don’t have a game plan for the opposite, you’re in deep trouble. We just prepare our guys and feel like we’ve seen about every type of team. Hopefully that experience will help propel them.”
The winner of the Central District Tournament advances to Grand Junction, Colo., for the NJCAA World Series May 23-30 at Sam Suplizio Field.
Second round schedule
No. 1 Seward vs. No. 8 Coffeyville, 10 a.m.
No. 4 Johnson vs. No. 12 Fort Scott, 1 p.m.
No. 3 Dodge City vs. No. 6 Neosho, 4 p.m.
No. 2 Cowley vs. No. 7 Butler, 7 p.m.