©Copyright Chipola College
January 31, 2018
MARIANNA—Chipola College baseball celebrated Alumni Weekend (Jan. 26-27) in grand style, handing out rings to returning members of the 2017 National Championship team and welcoming back former players from the school’s storied history.
An even dozen players from the 2017 National Champions squad showed up. Most were busy at D-1 programs or pro training camps. Eleven players from last year’s squad were pick in the MLB Draft. Most of the others went on to play at universities.
“It was a great weekend for Chipola baseball,” said NJCAA coach of the year, Jeff Johnson. “To have so many of these guys take time out of their lives to comeback year after year is a testament to how people feel about Chipola. This is a special place.”
Theweekend’s events included a banquet with headliner Jose Bautista, a member ofMLB’s 50-Homerun Club. Former players and friends of the program scarfed upmajor league bats and jerseys in the annual auction. Bautista, who has attended9 of 11 alumni weekends addressed the crowd of 150-plus, along with Honoraryalumnus Jeff Mathis of the Diamondbacks, who was drafted out of Marianna HighSchool.
ChipolaPresident Dr. Sarah Clemmons announced a campaign to name Chipola field inhonor of Coach Jeff Johnson. “Coach Johnson has put Chipola on the map, and nowwe want to honor his legacy. His success in 20 years at Chipola isunparalleled.”
FormerChipola player Nathan Marks, who organizes the event each year, said, “Theweekend just keeps getting better. Players from three decades were a part ofthis year’s celebration, and we’re already making plans for a big event nextyear.”
Playersfrom Chipola’s 1965-68 teams attended to reminisce with their coach, JimDuncan, who was recognized at the dinner and Saturday event.
ReynaldoRivera, now with the Detroit Tigers organization, won the alumni homerun derbyhitting 13 no-doubters in the final round. Last year’s winner Isiah Gilliam(Yankees organization) also participated, along with Mat Gamel who played forthe Brewers organization (2008-2012).
Thisyear’s Chipola baseball team—ranked first in both the state and nationalpre-season polls—managed to squeeze in two games, beating LB Wallace (11-9) andWallace Dothan (4-2).
TheIndians have four games at home Feb. 1-4 with Shelton State and Walters State.Chipola begins defense of their Conference title, March 6.