Shelton State Headed to NJCAA World Series
With a dominant 22-6 victory over Wallace-Dothan Wednesday, the Shelton State Buccaneers have won the ACCC Championship and punched a ticket to Grand Junction, Colorado for the NJCAA D1 World Series tournament later this month.
The Bucs are led by head coach Bobby Sprowl, who in his 31st year with Shelton State is headed to his fifth World Series appearance in nine years. Despite his over 1,000 career wins, the Bucs haven't won a national championship under Sprowl.
Sprowl is a name familiar to long-time Tuscaloosa residents entrenched in T-Town baseball culture. Sprowl played baseball at Alabama in the '70s and has been recognized in the Alabama Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame and as a member of the University of Alabama's All-Century baseball team.
The Bucs have compiled a 39-15 record this season, finding more success at home (18-3) than on the road (18-11.) With a .318 batting average and a .437 on base average as a team, the Bucs have shown the firepower to rack up run late in the season to contend for its first national championship.
Coach Sprowl joined The Gary Harris Show Thursday morning to discuss how the Bucs rallied through a tumultuous season to find late-season success and a trip to the Rocky Mountains to compete for a championship.
"We had a couple of rough stretches during the year that we just didn't play good, I've been telling people all year 'I know if we play our best game than anyone else does we're going to win 'cause we're much better, Sprowl said.
The early struggles come with the territory though, as team building at this level is a unique task to overcome.
"I think the toughest thing about junior college baseball is building a team," Sprowl said. "It's the toughest sport to do it, the toughest league to do it in. Because you only have kids for two years and when you get kids from all over the place -- and I'm not saying we don't, because the core of our team is from Tuscaloosa -- but building them, getting them to understand this is a team and it's not individuals is a tough thing to do in junior college."
But the team building is part of the process. With one hurdle seemingly cleared, the Bucs have to prepare for the next hurdle: winning a championship.
"We got a team built for winning it out there," Sprowl said. "This year, for me, that doesn't change. We're going out there to try to win it."
The full conversation with Sprowl can be heard below. During the full interview, Harris and Sprowl discuss the local recruiting scene in Alabama, the keys to victory for the Bucs and the challenges of playing in the Colorado climate.
The Gary Harris Show airs live on Tide 100.9 weekday mornings from 9 - 11 a.m.