Both the Tyler Junior College baseball and softball teams have a good chance of reaching their respective national tournaments and perhaps winning the school’s 55th national championship.
The Apaches baseball squad is seeking its fourth straight World Series championship. TJC is ranked No. 1 in the NJCAA Division III poll.
Coach Doug Wren has a very young team this year, but the standards and expectations are high as usual.
The Apaches are 13-9 after defeating UT Tyler’s JV 19-4 on Monday at Irwin Field.
Jordan Trahan, a sophomore from Liberty, is one of TJC’s top hitters with a batting average of .384, 21 runs scored, six doubles, seven home runs and 26 RBIs. Colton Whitehouse, a sophomore from Mansfield, has 16 runs scored with six stolen bases.
Top freshmen include Eric Bullock from Plano, hitting at .377 with 21 runs scored, four doubles and five stolen bases; Taylor Broadway from Cypress at .369, 16 runs scored, eight doubles, four home runs and 23 RBIs; and Chase Evans from Kingwood with 18 runs scored, 11 doubles and 12 RBIs.
Pitching-wise, the life-blood of any baseball team is led by James Kuykendall (sophomore, Spring) with a record of 4-2, 26 strikeouts and an ERA of 4.50 in 30 innings. Other wins have come from AbeRee Hiebert (2) (sophomore, Baytown), Mason Whitmarsh (2) (freshman, Keller) and one each from Payton Adams (freshman, Baytown), Austin Cernosek (sophomore, Katy), Andrew Nichols (freshman, Lone Oak), Daniel Bogue (sophomore, Tyler) and Austin Tambellini (freshman, Nelson, British Columbia).
Last month, Bogue was named NJCAA Division III Pitcher of the Week.
TJC has a doubleheader set for Saturday at Mike Carter Field. The first game against TCS-Post Graduate Academy is set to begin at 4 p.m.
After winning titles in Tyler and Kinston, North Carolina, the Apaches hope to win another in the World Series’ new location in Greeneville, Tennessee. The CWS is set for May 27-June 1.
After earning a national tournament berth in only their second year of existence last season, the Apache Ladies are eyeing another trip.
Maria Winn-Ratliff is the new coach after a successful stint at Western Nebraska. She takes over for Nicole Dickson, who cranked up the TJC program and is now head coach of the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks.
The Apache Ladies are ranked No. 15 in the latest poll with an overall record of 22-11. TJC is 3-1 in Region XIV play with conference wins over Northeast Texas (6-0, 11-1) and Bossier Parish (9-3). The Apache Ladies split with the Lady Cavaliers, falling 13-4 in the second game.
TJC returns to play on Thursday, traveling to Paris to meet the Lady Dragons. The on Saturday the Apache Ladies go to Athens to meet Trinity Valley. Both are doubleheaders with the first game scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.
The Apache Ladies return home March 22 to face Kilgore College at Schwab Field on The Brook Hill School campus in Bullard. The first game of that DH is slated for 1 p.m.
TJC has a team batting average of .361. The leaders are Makenzie Goswick (freshman, Joplin, Missouri) (.446, 12 doubles, 5 home runs, 33 RBIs), Haille Weber (sophomore, Longmont, Colorado) (.442, 11 doubles, 7 HRs, 31 RBIs), Briana Paysinger (freshman, Hesperia, California) (.429, 11 doubles) and Tommi Goodman (freshman, Lewisville) (.420, 3 triples), Shelby Hotchkiss (freshman, Tucson, Arizona) (13 doubles), Shelbi Court (freshman, Rockwall) (5 HRs, 26 RBIs) and McKenzie Peet (freshman, Cypress) (25 RBIs).
Kelly Mardones (sophomore, Sanger) is the leader in the circle with a 14-3 record. She has seven complete games with 69 strikeouts and 2.93 ERA. Other pitchers are Amber Loehr (freshman, La Grange) (6-5, 39 Ks, 4.42 ERA) and Julia Knight (freshman, San Marcos, California) (2-3, 23 Ks, 4.56 ERA).