When TJC Head Baseball Coach Doug Wren sat down just prior to the opening of the 2014 season, he had nothing but optimism for the upcoming year.
His team was ranked No. 2 in the nation and coming off a season that saw the Apaches just miss the NJCAA College World Series. But as the season neared its halfway point, the team’s record was just over .500 and it still hadn’t hit its stride.
“I think we are off to a good start,” Wren said. ”We are about 30 games in at this point. We have been playing some good baseball as of late. We had a really tough schedule to start out with.”
The team won six of its first eight games before going 7-7 in its next 14. Following a 2-1 loss to Arkansas Baptist in the first game of a doubleheader on March. 14, the team won four straight and was 16-9 going into a five-game road trip beginning March 19 at Coastal Bend.
The team still has aspirations of playing in both the District C Tournament and the College World Series on its home field in May.
The Apaches’ record might not reflect a team with those goals, but as Wren said prior to the season, the team doesn’t really have to reach its potential until the postseason arrives in May.
“We are playing some good baseball right now and obviously that is our goal as we continue to make our march to postseason baseball,” Wren said. .”
One highlight of the season so far came on March 14 when freshman pitcher Daniel Brown took a perfect game into the final inning in the nightcap of a doubleheader. He ended up allowing one hit and striking out 11 in a 6-0 TJC victory against Arkansas Baptist.
Brown was 4-0 this season after his first five starts with an ERA of 0.28. He allowed only one earned run in 32.1 innings pitched through those starts.
“I knew they weren’t good with fastballs in or fastballs away so I just pounded it in and out, mixing it up and then I went off-speed when I had to,” Brown said. “Luckily it was just all working for me.”
Through the team’s first 23 games, freshman outfielder Zane Otten led the team with a .324 batting average. Sophomores Anthony Soriano and Justin Monsour were just under the .300 plateau, batting .294 and .293 respectively.
Although the team went its first 23 games without a home run, Soriano led the group with 18 RBIs and nine doubles.
“We had kind of a slow start for us but I finally think we are starting to get things clicking,” Soriano said. ”At first we were just trying to figure out where to put people. We all decided to come out to play and we have all stuck to the plan.
“I think everything is finally starting to click as a team.”
The team still has enough games left in its schedule to reach its peak come postseason time.
Brown and Soriano believe that they can still reach the goal they set before the season began of advancing to the district and then the national tournament and winning it all on their home field.