The Spokane Baseball Community Colleges are only developing into Juco Power for regions despite the pandemic plan
The Community Colleges of Spokane recently checked in at # 16 in a national junior college baseball poll, an award the Sasquatch want to prove they deserve.
You can not.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced CCS to play only one league plan this spring, but that’s not why it didn’t go up against the best in the nation or vie for a spot in the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction Colorado, the starts this weekend.
While the best teams from baseball-rich states like Texas, Florida, and Arizona, as well as hundreds of others from around the country, strive for a national crown each year, members of the Northwest Athletic Conference peak at the regional NWAC tournament. The league season ends each year with 28 teams and a small budget.
NWAC teams don’t play beyond the borders of Washington, Oregon and British Columbia and save their respective institutions big bucks on travel expenses. NCAA Division I full scholarship factories such as senior Wabash College, Illinois, Walters State No. 2 (Tennessee), or even regionally, the College of Southern Idaho, are assigned at the NJCAA level.
A Nationally Ranked Program With No National Schedule: The Paradox Of A Burgeoning CCS Program That Has Set A Record Of 106-43 Year Four In The Last Four Years Under Coach Bryan Winston.
“We don’t have the opportunity (for a chance to play to make it to the NJCAA World Series) so it’s great to still be recognized in the top 25,” said Winston. “Those are some big teams on this survey.”
Popular college baseball website PerfectGame.com’s Top 25 recognition was some kind of consolation after a 29-7 season that unceremoniously ended last weekend after a home win over Treasure Valley.
“I think that’s something we all wanted to keep playing,” said CCS pitcher and Ferris graduate Cameron Liss. “But I’ll take a national ranking.”
Only three teams in the most recent Perfect Game poll are non-NJCAA members, including Ohlone and Orange Coast, members of the rugged California Community College Athletic Association, which ends their season with a state tournament with no national berths, similar to the NWAC.
The NWAC partial scholarship may not have the resources, facilities, weather, and huge recruiting pool like many NJCAA institutions, but programs like CCS still get the most out of their talent.
In Winston’s four years, CCS and its northwest-heavy roster have sent 10 players to Division I schools and even more to win the NAIA, NCAA Division II, and NCAA Division II programs.
Boise State Reed Harrington’s short term engagement was designed out of CCS in 2019 and is currently in the Boston Red Sox farm system.
Liss and teammate McKabe Cottrell, a Freeman graduate, signed a deal with Washington State this spring.
Liss, a southern paw who hasn’t made any scholarship offers from Ferris, came to CCS at £ 150 but has since put on up to £ 200 and significantly improved his pitches, he said.
He went 6-2 as a freshman while hitting 66 batters in 56 innings, posting an ERA of 2.08, and offers from Division I schools began to roll.
Cottrell, 81, Liss, 78, and Gonzaga Prep graduate Ryun Cross, 67, recently ended the entire NWAC on strike 1-2-3 to lead a deep and talented CCS pitching team.
“It was amazing to see what Winston and our coaches did with this program,” said Liss. “You bring good people and good people too. It’s a program that definitely flipped the script. “
There was a 15-year cap between NWS East Region titles for CCS, ranging from 2004 – when Winston played for the Sasquatch – to 2019, its second season.
The Sasquatch finished third at the NWAC tournament in 2018 and 2019 and reached first place in the preseason by 2020, where it started 9: 3 before the coronavirus canceled the season.
CCS played a schedule for the Eastern Region this spring, but was deprived of another opportunity to win an NWAC tournament title when the league turned down the postseason game on pandemic concerns.
But the season was still a success, said Winston given the circumstances.
“We got the best record in the East Region, which was our goal,” said Winston