A year to remember: CWS another sign of Pride’s national presence - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

A year to remember: CWS another sign of Pride’s national presence

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Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014 10:12 am | Updated: 10:35 am, Mon Jul 14, 2014.

It is hard to put into perspective all that has happened to the Mountain Pointe baseball program over the last three months.

And it isn’t over yet.

The Pride will have three former players participating in the College World Series, which began Saturday in Omaha, Neb.

It has just been a continuation of great success that started in March when the Pride went 2-2 at one of the most prestigious tournaments in the country at the U.S.A Baseball complex in Cary, N.C.

“I feel very blessed,” Mountain Pointe coach Brandon Buck said. “This isn’t something that just happens. It is something we’ve had to work very hard for and we are very demanding on our staff and players. When I was fortunate to be hired back in 2006 I sat in the administrator’s office and said I wanted to be on this type of level, where we are being recognized nationally.

“I just never imagined it would happen on so many levels and have all of this happen in one year.”

On May 3 former Pride player C.J. Cron made his Major League debut for the Los Angeles Angels and went 3 for 5 with two RBIs.

While Mountain Pointe’s season ended in the second round of the Division I playoffs, the good vibes surrounding the program continued last week when shortstop Cole Tucker was selected No. 24 overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the MLB first-year player draft.

It was followed up in the days following when former players Jordan Kipper (ninth round by Angels) and Kevin Cron (14th round by the Diamondbacks) were drafted as well.

Then on Sunday of last week Texas Christian and Ole Miss qualified for the CWS in back-to-back broadcasts on ESPN to secure a spot the college game’s premier event for the TCU duo of Kipper and Cron along with Rebel freshman Brantley Bell.

“For most schools that would be a great 15- 20-year history,” Mountain Pointe principal and proud father Bruce Kipper said.

And here is the kicker — TCU and Ole Miss meet in an elimination game Thursday at 5 p.m. on ESPN.

“It would mean so much for me to play TCU,” said Bell, who is hitting .307 with 16 runs, six doubles and 11 RBIs in 42 games, including 22 starts as a true freshman.

“I know it would certainly be a great game for the Pride and everyone back home to be a part of as well. Both of those guys are still my very good friends and for one of us to have the chance to have a college World Series ring on top of that state championship ring we took home in 2011 is awesome.”

TCU (47-16) plays Texas Tech (45-19) at noon on Sunday and then Mississippi (46-19) faces Virginia (49-14). If both teams win then they play each other on Tuesday at 5 p.m. (noon if they both lose).

“To have three former players from the same high school playing in the College World Series has to be pretty rare,” said Kipper, who is 8-2 with a 3.10 ERA in 16 games, including 12 starts. “I’m sure we will have dinner together or something. It speaks a lot to the program and the school. My dad, (former athletic director Ian) Moses, coach Buck and so many others showed us what good leadership, passion and hard work can do.”

The length of the Horned Frogs, who have won 32 of their last 36 games, second ever trip to the CWS could very well also mark the end of the long-standing run by Kipper and Cron, who is hitting .279 with a team-high five home runs and 40 RBIs, as teammates.

It began when they were about 10 years old, playing for Cole Tucker’s dad, Jackie, on the Dodgers in Little League, continued to middle school where they won a championship before winning a state title with the Pride as seniors with Cron on the mound and Kipper getting the walk-off hit.

They went their separate ways to start their college careers as Kipper went to Central Arizona before joining Cron in Fort Worth this year.

Neither has announced whether they will turn pro or return for their senior years, but chances are this will be the last go of it.

“It’s been pretty special for both of us,” Kipper said. “When I went to Central we kind of figured it was over, but it has worked out to be a blessing this year. We aren’t thinking about what’s next yet. We are just focused on what’s ahead of us and making it last as long as possible.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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