Suns Baseball Ranked #2 in NCCAA Poll
March 28, 2012, Kissimmee, Florida
When Jon Copeland was hired last February to lead Florida Christian College’s first ever Baseball Program, expectations were certainly high. After all, Copeland had a wealth of experience at a number of Christian colleges and universities and was most recently coming off a year in which he was on staff at Vanderbilt University, one of the nation’s top collegiate baseball programs year in and year out. But not too many people expected the Suns to do this well. Having won 16 of their last 19 games, including wins over NAIA programs Florida Memorial, Ave Maria, Point University, and NCAA DII contender St. Leo University, the Florida Christian College Men’s Baseball team is now ranked #2 in the latest NCCAA Poll. The ranking is the highest the team has been this season, and also the highest any team has ever reached in school history. “Jon knows what he’s doing, that’s for sure” commented Athletic Director Bryce Bow. “It’s really just a testament to a lot of hard work and persistence on the team’s part. His guys had to overcome a lot in the fall to be where they are now. God is faithful. Jon’s really trying to do it God’s way, and I think winning is just a natural outworking of that….of doing the right things, the right way, for the right reasons day in and day out. They’re doing that.” Coach Copeland was excited about the news, but isn’t putting too much into it. “The ranking is nice, but the only poll that matters to us is the last one.”
Copeland’s goal all along has been to create a competitive, Christ-Centered program. Along with regular team prayer, his team has hosted a number of free clinics in the community. On Thursdays, they have been working through a book by well-known Christian coach/leader Tony Dungy. They also have a number of other unique things they do to foster a Christ-Centered culture. For example, in the dugout each game, the team has a simple sign that reads, “Honor God”. The sign functions similar to the “Play Like a Champion Today” sign that adorns the tunnel at Notre Dame University. Many of the FCC Baseball guys touch and tap the sign as they enter and exit the dugout.
The only team currently ranked higher than the Suns are the Eagles of Toccoa Falls College. The two teams faced off on March 15th for a double-header that saw FCC blow a 2-1 lead in the first game to eventually lose 3-2 (TFC’s last two runs were unearned), and then win by the “mercy rule” (10 run rule) the second game when Sophomore slugger Carlos Guzman hit a 2 run walk-off homerun in the bottom of the 5th. Toccoa Falls has won the NCCAA National Championship 2 of the last 3 years, including last year.
The team will play their final series of home games on April 13th & 14th against South Region foe Clearwater Christian College.
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