One glance at the season-ending NJCAA Division II baseball Top 20 rankings and the list of 10 teams that made it to this year’s edition of its World Series in Enid reveals the unpredictable nature of the sport.
None of the top five teams in the season’s final rankings survived and advanced to the World Series. Only one Top 10 team made it to Enid — No. 6 Pearl River, Miss., — and five of the teams in Enid finished unranked.
It created an interesting situation to say the least when Series organizers sat down at the conclusion of the playoffs to seed the teams. It also reveals a little bit about the difficulty of accurately ranking the teams during the season.
“Not everybody (casting votes in the rankings) gets to see the other schools,” said World Series Director Lind Hartsell. “We don’t always have the information. There are so many variables that go into the almighty L and W in baseball that we don’t see all the time, such as a team’s No. 1 pitcher being hurt or missing a start.
“I think the polls offer entertainment value.”
Still, Hartsell notes the polls do play a role in deciding the seedings, but he emphasized it’s only a partial role.
“In junior college, there’s not a lot of one region playing another,” he said. “There’s very little of that. When they do, a lot of the northern teams start their season down south, and that’s not the same team as it is at the beginning of the season.”
That is evident by looking at Northern Oklahoma College Enid’s early schedule that had teams from Iowa visiting.
“We can really look at it a little deeper and talk it out (when doing seeding),” Hartsell said.
Not surprisingly, Pearl River, Miss., which knocked out No. 1-ranked and defending World Series champion LSU-Eunice to reach the World Series, got the No. 1 seed. It is generally acknowledged the Wildcats play in the toughest region.
In the end, Hartsell was satisfied with how the seedings were developed as apparently were others.
You know, in baseball when you get an “atta baby,” you know you have done something good,” Hartsell said. “Well, when the seedings came out, I got a lot of “atta babies” on the job we did on the seedings. That makes you feel good.”