Co-Lin Wolves ride hopes to Central District in St. Louis

Published 5:00 am Thursday, May 17, 2001

WESSON – Fresh from winning the NJCAA Region 23 Division IITournament, the Co-Lin Wolves departed for St. Louis, Mo., thismorning by bus, with an eye on bigger prizes. They are part of a3-team, Central District/Super Regional Tournament which startsThursday at Sauget Field.

Co-Lin (32-24), the defending Central District champion, playshost Forest Park (37-19) Community College Thursday at 4 p.m. Thewinner plays St. Catherine (Ky.) at 7 that night as thedouble-elimination tournament continues. The Central Districtchampion advances to the Division II World Series in Millington,Tenn.

The Wolves fought their way back through the losers bracket andbeat Hinds back-to-back to win the Region 23 title. They defeatedthe Eagles 7-4 Sunday afternoon and 6-2 Monday at Fulton in thechampionship game.

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Co-Lin coach Keith Case said his players were showing signs offatigue after playing five tournament games in four days and livingout of suitcases. He hopes they can rejuvenate in time for ForestPark.

“Our pitchers are tired,” said Case. “Our position guys are alittle tired, too. I hope our hard-working, blue collar guys can goback to work.” He canceled a Tuesday night practice, giving themmore time to rest.

Case said he planned to start sophomore pitcher Josh Garrett ofMonticello against Forest Park. “Josh has had the most rest of thestarters. Then we’ll play it by ear.”

Garrett, a Southern Miss signee, said the Wolves came togetheras a team at the end of the regular season. “We kept picking eachother up. Everybody is helping everybody else.”

Garrett said he was looking forward to the rematch with ForestPark. Co-Lin beat the Highlanders in last year’s Central Districttitle game.

“I think we are ready for a rematch,” said Garrett. “It shouldbe a lot of fun. We feel like we can beat anybody now.”

Co-Lin was minus one of its starters, centerfielder ArlandusBrown, for the regional tournament. Brown withdrew from a classafter spring break. He didn’t have the required number of hours tobe eligible for the regional.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Case. “Arlandus is a good individual.He just got some bad advice from an older person.”

Co-Lin freshman first baseman/leftfielder Seth Lofton ofBrookhaven (Loyd Star) said he was looking forward to thetournament. Co-Lin is staying at a hotel about two blocks fromBusch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals.

“We’ll have to wait and see what the other teams have got,” saidLofton. “From the start of the season until now, we have beenplaying better as a team.”

Starting the season in February, Co-Lin was minus eight positionstarters from the 47-17 squad that finished fourth in the WorldSeries. Obviously, it was a major rebuilding year for theWolves.

“We surprised some people this year,” said Lofton. “We startedout kind of rough but we got better. I’m hitting the ballbetter.

“Coach Case told the team we needed to get hot at the righttime.”

Case said Forest Park and St. Catherine have improved since lastyear’s playoffs which were hosted by Co-Lin. “Both teams have somegood players. They both have better teams than they had last year.Both have above-average pitching.

“Forest Park has three pitchers who could go in the draft thisyear,” Case pointed out. “St. Catherine has two left-handers whothrow in the low 90s.

“I’m proud of our team and what they have accomplished.”

Co-Lin sophomore pitcher Chuckie Stracener of Brookhaven (WestLincoln) agreed. “We have really come together as a team. We’re afamily. When it came down to crunch time, we got the job done.”

“I think we have a real good chance to win this tournament if weplay together.”