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NIACC baseball preview

niacc_trojans_logoENID, Okla. – The NIACC baseball team opens play in the NJCAA Division II World Series at 7 p.m. Saturday at David Allen Memorial Ballpark against No. 6 Madison College.

NIACC (29-16) advanced to its first national tournament by winning the Region XI tournament and claiming the North Plains district title.

“There’s no pressure on us,” NIACC coach Travis Hergert said. “We’re here to enjoy it and make a run at this thing.

“But they are not here to be on vacation and say they were in the World Series. Our focus is on Madison College right now.”

Madison College (39-11) is led by freshman right-handed pitcher Nathan Hoffman (6-foot-1, 190 pounds). Hoffman is 8-0 with a 2.74 earned run average in 56 1/3 innings pitched.

Hoffman, who is from Sun Prairie, Wis., has 46 strikeouts and 13 walks. He was the Wisconsin State Journal player of the year in his senior year at Sun Prairie.

Danny Krause, a freshman catcher/infielder, is hitting .465 to lead the Wolfpack.

“They’re very comparable to the top teams in our conference,” Hergert said. “They have good pitching, play good defense and are very fundamentally sound.

“Coach (Mike) Davenport does a fantastic job. They’ll throw a good arm at us. They’ll play small ball. They’re not a power-hitting team, but are very fundamentally sound.”

Hergert said sophomore right-hander Tim Black (Mount Hope, Ontario) will start the series opener for the Trojans.

Black picked up a win and a save in the regional tournament and topped Miles Community College in the district opener.

Black (5-3) has a 2.14 ERA in 63 innings pitched. He has 60 strikeouts and 23 walks.

“He’s been remarkable,” Hergert said of Black. “Both him, (Lucas) Bakker and (Nick) Veale have thrown very well.

“But he’s had the hot hand. He’s been very dominant in his last two starts and closing out the regional championship, but last week in Montana, he was unhittable. We think he’s going to give us a quality start (Saturday) night.”

Hergert said sophomore pitcher Joey Reed and sophomore second baseman Hunter King will be available for the World Series.

Reed pulled muscle in his right shoulder during the regional tournament and King injured his ankle in the district tournament.

“(Reed) threw a bullpen (Thursday) and felt pretty good,” Hergert said. “I’d say he’s at 85 to 90 percent.

“He’s available out of the bullpen in the right situation.”

King practiced on Thursday and Friday.

“He is looking very good,” Hergert said. “I think he will be able to start at second base (Saturday) night. His lateral movement is very good. He really pushed it at practice (Thursday) and bounced back really well.”

The winner of the NIACC/Madison College game plays the Murray State College/Brunswick Community College winner at noon on Monday. The loser of the NIACC/Madison game plays the Murray State/Brunswick loser at 7 p.m. Sunday.

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