Adversity overcome, MCC ends 5th
By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
May 30, 2003
The throng of family members, friends and fans that cheered the Meridian Community College baseball after the team's final game at the 2003 Alpine Bank Junior College World Series was fitting for this team.
The crowd at the fence behind the Eagles dugout was so thick the team had to find another way off of Suplizio Field.
As the squad from the Queen City crossed the diamond for the final time at the national championship tournament after its 12-4 loss to Walters State (Tenn.) Community College, the Eagles received one last round of applause for the season.
Having to find an alternative route off the field became old hat for the Eagles this year.
The freshmen laden squad, MCC's 25-man roster consisted of 16 first-year players, had found new ways to do things all year.
The Eagles preserved through injuries that decimated their pitching staff and reshape the team's daily line up to finish fifth at the World Series.
MCC lost the services of pitcher Chris Moffett after two games to Tommy John's surgery. Freshman hurler Justin Brewer never made it onto the mound after tearing his pectoralis major, and pitcher Justin Rayborn battled elbow trouble all year.
The Eagles also had to scramble to find a new first baseman, after Joey Lieberman fractured his wrist in the third game of the season.
Some how the young team found ways to win throughout the year, posting a final record of 39-19, and the squad accomplished more than most would have thought possible.
MCC head baseball coach Michael Federico knew he had a special team early in the season.
The second-year Eagles skipper pointed to a close victory early in the year that built the team's chemistry and heart.
MCC appears to be a contender for a return trip back to Grand Junction, Colo., the site of the Junior College World Series, next season.
The Eagles lose just nine players to graduation, and the staff expects to have most of the freshmen back next season as well.
The team will also have plenty of motivation for next season. MCC got a taste of the national championship tournament, and the team is determined to return for another title run.
Federico is a little more guarded about talking about bringing home the program's first national baseball title.
The Louisiana native and former Southern Miss catcher said the main goal for the team is just getting another chance to play at the 10-team tourney.
What the coach isnt shy about talking about is how much his team has grown over 58 games this year. Federico said the Eagles bought into his and assistant coach Chad Caillet's system, and they had great success at times.
With one year under their belts and the examples set by the graduating sophomores, Federico knows he will not have search far for leadership in 2004.