MARIANNA, FL (WJHG/WECP) The Chipola baseball team is back home after a rather successful road trip to Lakeland.
Coach Jeff Johnson and his Indians arriving back on campus just before three Thursday afternoon, coming back with another state championship trophy in tow.
The Indians winning four of five games at State, and getting the title with a win in the second of two against rival Northwest Florida Wednesday.
Chipola the first program to win three straight state titles since Manatee won four in a row between 1960 and '63.
A small group of supporters greeting the team upon it's arrival. Shortly after getting the coach talked to us about on enjoying all of this!
"You get to my age, I'm 53 years old now, you start to appreciate stuff more." coach Johnson told us. "You know when you're young, you're selfish, you worry about the next win. You worry about the next loss happening to you. But when you get a little bit older you really start becoming unselfish and you worry more about these kids having a great environment, a great experience and that's what I keep telling them."
In past seasons, there was a two week break beteween the State Tournament and Nationals in Grand Junction, Colorado. That was changed recently, and coach Johnson is happy with the relatively quick turnaround ahead for his team.
"You know I like it. I was one of the ones that proposed it down at our State Tournament meeting in the fall. You know just trying to keep from having...I think it's something that's hurt us for a long time, having a two week break and sitting out. Because there's really nobody to play right now, so you can't pick up any games. In baseball you've got to play to be hot, you've got to play to keep the continuity."
And as for getting that third straight title, as always it was tough, needing to survive a very good Northwest Florida team. As it turned out, Johnson had the perfect pre-game motivation for his guys, dangling the trip west in front of them, since only a few remain from last year's squad that went to Grand Junction.
"But I did tell them yesterday if we can win this thing it's gonna be a lot of fun here in about a week and a half. And that's the thing you want them to do. To go to Grand Junction and play in that environment, it's a self motivational crowd out there. You'll have about eight to thirteen thousand people in the stands watching you play. They treat you like rock stars, like you want to be treated. That you wish every junior college game was like, but it's not."
Jeff says the guys will take Friday off, work out a little over the weekend and Monday. Then head west Tuesday, with their first game in Grand Junction set for Saturday the 25th.
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