The Gaston College baseball and softball teams are playing in the National Junior Athletic Association College Planet Series this week, and the Rhinos are getting billed as a surprise overnight results.

Overnight results? Of course.

Surprising? Okay …

In their initially year of eligibility, the Rhinos reached the state championships in each baseball and softball, an extremely swift rise to the leading of the junior college athletics planet.

But this results is backed by significant investment from the college and the neighborhood, and the Rhinos are developed to maintain it going for some time.

“I had hundreds of good friends contact me final week and ask, ‘How did you do that?’ ” mentioned Shawn Doty, who wears two hats — baseball coach and athletic director at the two-year college.

“The brief answer is we have a college that seriously supports us,” he mentioned. “And the neighborhood joined in.”

I take that seriously

In January 2021, college president John Hauser announced that his college would revive athletics right after a 50-year hiatus. Doty, 53, with 33 years of college coaching practical experience, most of it at the NCAA Division I level, has been hired as the baseball coach. He later became director of athletics.

Dottie has worked at a quantity of DI schools, which includes Charlotte. When at Old Dominion, he coached a 3-time Cy Young Award-winning ideal-handed pitcher named Justin Verlander.

Gaston College also tapped Michael Steuerwald, one more veteran coach, to lead the softball plan.

In late 2021, Һauser announced that Gaston College would lease Sims Legion Park from the city of Gastonia, and the college subsequently renovated the stadium.

“We installed artificial turf, renovated the locker rooms and enhanced the concession locations,” Doty mentioned. “It really is a totally diverse location.”

The college has decided to broadcast all its matches reside.

Doty was offered the go-ahead to employ two assistant coaches — Jacob Rand (Wingate) and KJ McAllister (NC Central).

Active recruiters

The 3 coaches employed their practical experience and began recruiting.

The story continues

Outfielder Wade Kelly, who leads the group with a .342 batting typical this season, is from Massapequa, New York

“That was an instance of organization speak to,” Doty mentioned. “I got a contact from somebody I knew and told me Wade was hunting for a location to play.

The Rhinos have produced comprehensive use of the transfer portal and acquired a quantity of talented players from other schools.

Pitcher Kyle McKernan, a Marvin Ridge Һigһ item who is eight-1 this season with 76 strikeouts in 58.1 innings, has moved to the Rһinos from Virginia Teһ. Sun Valley item Derek Vartanian, who is 9- with just seven walks in 73 innings, came more than from Guilford Tech. Many players have transferred from the Charlotte 49ers and other Division I applications.

And, Doty mentioned, Gaston College has an benefit that other junior college applications never have.

“We’re not your common juke town,” he mentioned. “We have much more than a 7/11 right here. Our youngsters can take benefit of getting in a big metro region. They can go see the Panthers or the Hornets. That is the edge.”

Then once more, numerous of Gaston College’s players are homegrown. There are 15 players on the roster from Mecklenburg, Gaston and Union counties.

“There is a lot of talent in the Charlotte region,” Doty mentioned.

Nevertheless, the teams had to win, ideal?

Make it perform

Doty’s group went 41-9 final season as a initially-year plan, the Rhinos have been ineligible for the junior varsity playoffs.

“Final year, our aim was to win 40 games,” he mentioned. “This year, the quantity of victories was not the most significant factor.” That was winning the regional and district championships.”

Doty’s group has accomplished it all this season. Gaston College is 49-11 and ranked 12th nationally. The Rhinos have been the Area ten champions and then went on to win the East District title.

That necessary beating the mighty Darlington Florence Tech twice on the final day of the tournament.

The Rhinos are the initially Area ten group to attain the College Planet Series because Pitt Neighborhood College in 2010.

Doty mentioned he and the coaching employees take pride in shepherding their players by way of two years of college, focusing on each athletics and academics, and assisting them discover a household for the rest of their college careers. He mentioned 15 members of this year’s roster will play NCAA Division I baseball subsequent year.

“We send guys to DI applications,” he mentioned. “And future student-athletes notice it.”

How far can the Rhinos go in the Division I College Planet Series, facing teams with much more established applications.

“Who knows?” mentioned Dottie. “But we’re going to Colorado to win, and we’re also going to take pleasure in the practical experience.”

Rhinos in Colorado

Gaston College is the fifth seed out of ten teams in the NJCAA Division I College Planet Series, which will be played at Sam Suplizio Field in Grand Junction, Colorado. The Rhinos will face sixth seed Blinn College of Brenham, Texas in the initially round. Their initially game is scheduled for Sunday at noon.

Charlotte-region soccer players on the group:

Hayden Brandon, IF, Charlotte Christian

Landon Carr, P, Cuthbertson

Seth Christmas, C, Hopewell

JJ DeVos, P, Hickory Ridge

Konni Durschlag, OF/P, Mallard Creek (batting .357)

Preston Hall, IF, Myers Park

Chase Ketner, IF, Cuthbertson

Kyle McKernan, P, Marvin Ridge (eight-1, three.24 ERA, 76 strikeouts in 58 innings)

Adam Quintero, IF, Piedmont

Miller St. John, IF, Marvin Ridge

Trey Truitt, OF, East Mecklenburg (leads group in household runs, with 15, and RBI, with 65)

Steve Small on Twitter: @slittle

By Editor