With the home stretch of the regular season upon us, the Crowder Roughriders know they’ve entered a crucial part of the season where it’s important to start playing your best baseball. And if the Roughriders haven’t yet hit that stretch, well, watch out.
A steady climb up the NJCAA Division I baseball rankings had the Roughriders as high as No. 2 in the nation entering the week. Not anymore.
For the first time in school history they’re No. 1. Not a bad way to celebrate the school’s 50th anniversary, eh?
With a 30-5 record and a 13-1 clip in Region 16 play, their hard work and consistent success has caught the attention of voters across the nation, and coach Travis Lallemand’s squad is now the top team in the nation.
They received five first-place votes in leapfrogging Tallahassee Community College, with four votes, for the top spot. Iowa Western, a team the Roughriders swept in a doubleheader this season, is No. 3, followed by College of Southern Nevada and Grayson College to round out the top five.
“It’s nice to be recognized like that and I think we’re deserving of it,” Lallemand said. “We’ve played one of the best schedules in the country, so I think where we’re at right now speaks a lot about our team. I’ve said this for years, but the schedule we play has as much to do with us getting that ranking, but I think we’re very deserving.”
While many of the Roughriders took to Twitter in celebration once they’d heard the news, most were quick to point out that it was just the beginning of what they intend to accomplish this season.
“It doesn’t change anything with us as far as our approach goes,” Lallemand said. “Our guys have been very level-headed about it and I saw that out of them today, which I was glad to see. We’re appreciative of the recognition, but the players and our coaching staff has bigger goals in mind.”
Now they’ll get to business defending that ranking, and what better way to do so than taking on Region 16 nemesis Jefferson College in a four-game road series in Hillsboro, Mo., this weekend. The Roughriders currently sit atop the Region 16 leaderboard at 13-1, but the Vikings are in second at 10-2. Lallemand said the series should be a good test for the nation’s new No. 1.
“I’ve used the word that it’s a very pivotal weekend as far as conference standings go,” Lallemand said. “What better way to celebrate a number one national ranking than going to play an arch-nemesis, at least in the past several years, with Jeff Co.? So we’re kind of looking forward to that.”
Page 2 of 2 - Crowder will take the field as the nation’s No. 1 for the first time at 1 p.m. Saturday with a doubleheader against the Vikings, before concluding the series with another doubleheader at noon on Sunday.