Apache baseball fans have high expectations. That is what happens when the hometown team wins a NJCAA National Championship in 2007 and has won back-to-back Metro Athletic Conference Titles.
However, much more comes along with being a championship caliber team than just a shiny trophy.
Expectations of a third straight MAC title followed by another trip to the NJCAA National Tournament is expected by most fans and certainly is the goal of the Apache baseball coaching staff and players alike.
Talk about pressure.
And this all has to be done in a conference that, according to head coach Jon Groth, is the hardest in the nation. Last year, the MAC was home to three teams all ranked nationally inside the top ten.
That doesn’t bother Groth though. His faith lies in the hands of his coaching staff and team, especially the returning sophomores.
“Our sophomores are invaluable. Our team will only go as far as they can carry us,” Groth said.
While the players are the ones out on the field making the plays, there is no one more valuable to the upcoming season and advancing these student athlete’s careers as ballplayers than head coach Jon Groth.
“Coach Groth is a players coach,” Doug Wren, one of Groth’s assistant coaches, said. “He wants more from the team than just to win; he stresses academics as well as the bigger picture, and that is life outside of baseball.”
“Baseball is this great laboratory,” Groth said. “My hope is that I have prepared my players for the challenges they all will face in everyday life, not just the challenges they will face on the diamond.”
It’s philosophies like these that create winning programs, which is exactly what Apache baseball was not in 1992 when Groth took the reigns.
Groth used to have the opportunity to go out and recruit any player he deemed worthy, and grant that ball player a scholarship. These days that action would get Groth fired, since TJC and other schools in the MAC conference no longer have the luxury of offering prospective talents scholarships.
That leaves TJC with players that have gone undiscovered by larger schools and Universities.
Good thing that undiscovered talent is still what all baseball coaches crave. So while many think Apache baseball is not getting the cream of the crop, the team’s recent collection of trophies, conference titles and championship rings give naysayers a different tune to sing.
Two-time national champions and three-time conference champions does have a nice ring to it. And if all goes according to plan, that’s exactly what this year’s Apache baseball team will be.