MARIANNA, Fla. - We're almost a month into the junior college baseball season, and up in Marianna the Chipola Indians are in the middle of their encore to last year's national championship team.
But as is the case with championship teams, there's always lots of talent to replace.
20 of the 25 players from last year's team are gone, 11 of them drafted, seven signing Major League contracts, and the rest moving on to four year schools.
With that said, they're off to a solid 10-4 record and getting ready for a big weekend with three games in Palatka, Florida.
So far the strength of the team has been the front of the order, and the top two starting pitchers Phillip Sanderson and Andrew Grogan, essentially the returning sophomores.
Coach Jeff Johnson says the rest will come around, it just comes down to experience.
"Well, any time you lose 20 of your 25 players, it makes for a tougher year,” Coach Johnson says, “We went from very talented guys with 11 of them getting drafted last year - we had big shoes to fill. In saying that, we're going to have some growing pains. Hopefully we can get our chemistry right and get kids playing as one, playing hard, learning how to play, having some aptitude, not having to correct the same mistakes every day. That's the big thing right now, trying to get that accomplished, and teaching them how to play."
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