As the Texas Collegiate League unveils the new sharp TCL Championship trophy design, the most important question still remains; which playoff team will be the last one standing and named 2007 TCL Champions?
It comes down to four teams in the battle for the bowl with Wichita Falls, Coppell, Brazos Valley and McKinney competing for the TCL title. Coppell and McKinney are in a familiar position as both teams have participated in the TCL post-season in every season since the inauguration of the league.
Looking back onto the regular season, the Roughnecks did prove one thing to the league – they have players that can swing the bat. Wichita Falls is tied for the league lead in hitting (.270) led by July’s D-Bat Player of the Month Chris Richburg (Texas Tech). Richburg finished out the season leading the league in hits (44), doubles (15), triples (5), RBI (33) and slugging percentage (.591). The Red Raider outfielder also ranks in the top five in batting average, on-base percentage and runs scored. The Roughnecks also have the 2007 TCL batting champion in their lineup as John Dao (NE Texas CC) finished out the season with a .365 average followed by teammate Danny Slinkman (UT-Arlington) who posted a .363 average.
The Copperheads have always had a great combination of pitching and hitting that equaled success in the past and this season is no different. Coppell, who leads all teams in hits and RBI, has a lineup that seems to have it all. A solid leadoff hitter in Arkansas’ Sean Jones (.295, 12 SB, .412 OBP) and a powerful middle of the lineup that consists of San Jacinto’s Brandon Belt (.333, 4 HR, 33 RBI), Texas’ Preston Clark (.268, 5 HR, 25 RBI), Arkansas’ Jeff Nutt (.317, 4 2B, 17 RBI) and TCL home run leader Matt Curry (.280, 7 HR, 25 RBI). Leading the Copperheads on the mound, Clayton Ehlert (Texas A&M) went 4-1 with a 2.11 ERA and 28 strikeouts and reliever Rett Varner (BYU) tallied a 4-1 record with a minuscule 0.86 ERA in 11 appearances.
Brazos Valley wrapped up a very successful summer with a playoff bid in their first ever season in the TCL. The Bombers, who had a .389 winning percentage on the fourth of July, caught fire carrying out a seven game winning streak to boost them out of the gutter and into first place. The pitching staff grabbed the attention of teams throughout the league as Louisiana Tech’s Clint Helms (3-2, 2 CG, 20 K) threw the TCL’s first ever no-hitter and Texas’ Casey Whitmer (2-2, 1.51 ERA, 51 K) ended the season as the strikeout leader with 51 K’s despite leaving the team early due to injury. The Bombers’ bats are also something to be reckoned with due to the play of June D-Bat Player of the Month Will Basom (UT-Permian Basin), Keith Stein (Sam Houston State) and Mark McGonigle (New Orleans).
McKinney , who will attempt to repeat as TCL champions, follows the philosophy that pitching wins ballgames. The Marshals’ staff leads the league in team ERA, home runs allowed and hits allowed. Ace Justin Murray (Kansas State) put up ridiculous numbers this summer posting a 5-2 record with a 0.54 ERA, 48 strikeouts in 50 innings pitched. They also received consistently solid outings from Mark McCain (Richland College), Stephan Richards (Arkansas) and Daniel Meadows (Temple College). TCL All-Star game MVP Derek Wiley (Belmont) leads the McKinney bats knocking in 21 RBI on the season. Brett Nommensen (Eastern Illinois) has been a strong threat all season posing a team-high .333 average with nine doubles, three triples and 14 stolen bases.
The playoffs begin on Monday August 6th with the each division competing in a best of three series. Wichita Falls and Coppell host the first and third (if necessary) games with the McKinney and Brazos Valley hosting the second game. After a day off on Thursday, the championship round consists of the winner of each division series competing in a best of three series. The team in the championship series with the best regular season record hosts the first and third (if necessary) games.
Below is the schedule for the entire week of the 2007 TCL Playoffs:
Monday August 6th
Brazos Valley @ Coppell – 7:05pm
McKinney @ Wichita Falls – 7:35pm
Tuesday August 7th
Coppell @ Brazos Valley – 7:05pm
Wichita Falls @ McKinney – 7:05pm
Wednesday August 8th
Brazos Valley @ Coppell – 7:05pm (if necessary)
McKinney @ Wichita Falls – 7:35pm (if necessary)
Thursday August 9th
Friday August 10th
Championship Game 1 (Time/Location TBD)*
Saturday August 11th
Championship Game 2 (Time/Location TBD)*
Sunday August 12th
Championship Game 3 (Time/Location TBD)*
*The team in the championship series with the best regular season record hosts the first and third (if necessary) games.