Kirkwood’s Angel Merced
UPDATE 5/8/14: The Eagles have won their opening round matchup versus Ellsworth Community College by a score of 7-5 after a late-game bases loaded walk.
The Eagles now move on to play on Friday (5/9) at 4 p.m. against either DMACC or Southwestern Community College.
Click here to take a look at the tournament bracket.
Eagles look for first regional championship under second year head coach
The Kirkwood Eagles baseball team (29-17-1, 13-11) has wrapped up the regular season and now head to Waterloo for the NJCAA Division II Region XI Tournament as the fourth seed.
Despite dealing with injuries to some of their crucial players, the Eagles finished in the top-half (4th) of the Iowa Community College Athletics Conference (ICCAC). Second year Head Coach Todd Rima credits the team’s ability to deal with adversity as a reason for the Eagles finishing as one of the better teams in the conference.
“This team has had success because of our depth,” said Rima. “We have overcome injuries to key guys. Our players have done a tremendous job stepping up and filling those roles. I have been very pleased with this teams progress. We have improved every single week.”
In any level of athletic competition, player development is important to a team’s success when injuries happen. According to Rima, multiple players have really improved their game over the course of the season.
“Angel Merced has had an amazing year,” said Rima. “His development has been outstanding. Also, Jamison Steege has been our biggest surprise on the mound. He’s really picked up our pitching staff.”
For the Eagles, this season has been less about individual successes and more about the team. The most important aspect about a championship team is playing cohesively and Rima thinks that is exactly what the Eagles are doing.
“I really like this team’s mindset,” said Rima. “They are motivated to play well at the tournament. If we can continue to play with the effort that we have, we can compete with anybody.”
The 2014 NJCAA Region XI Tournament will be held at Riverfront Stadium in Waterloo May 8-12. Kirkwood will take on fifth-seeded Ellsworth Community College (22-28, 14-12) on Thursday, May 8, beginning at 10 a.m.