By Todd Wills
Special to the Daily Sun
The Navarro Bulldogs won’t back down when it comes to believing they’re as good any team that will be at the JUCO World Series.
The rankings say so. Navarro is No. 1 on PerfectGame.com, a website devoted to amateur baseball. The Bulldogs are No. 4 in the latest NJCAA National Poll released this week.
Navarro also heads to Grand Junction as the Region XIV champions and that in itself gives them a favorite status. Navarro won the JUCO World Series in their only trip in school history in 2011.
“We’re going to be there,” Navarro coach Whoa Dill said. “Just look at what this region has done.”
San Jacinto, the 2010 Region XIV champions, made it the JUCO World Series championship game. Navarro won it 2011 and the Gators made it back to the national title game in 2012.
The Bulldogs (43-15) have won 32 of their last 41 games. They’ve done it behind a deep pitching staff.
Right-hander Lukas Schiraldi is 10-0 and was the conference pitcher of the year. Gage Curry is 9-2 and pitched a complete game in the regional tournament. Closer Blake Griffin is 3-0 with 11 saves.
There’s also Chad Young and Zach Hobbs in the rotation and J.D. Hammer and Jack Moffitt in the bullpen. Clint Wilson, who has been injured, could return in Grand Junction.
“I believe pitching-wise we’re as deep as any team,” Dill said. “I do believe we’re as good as anybody.”
Dill didn’t stop there. He has faith in his defense. He likes his lineup, which pounded out 15 runs on 18 hits in their semifinal game against San Jacinto on Monday.
Navarro is also a resilient team. They rallied from deficits of 2-0, 4-0 and 2-0 in their final three games at the regional tournament in Lufkin.
That in itself suggests a team worthy of favorite status.