The Chattahoochee Valley Community College baseball team has been in this position before. The Pirates are the No. 1-ranked team heading into the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series.
Two years ago, the Pirates didn't handle it well. After beating Delgado in their opening game, the Pirates were hammered by Blinn (Texas) 10-2 and Spartanburg (S.C.) 18-3.
CVCC coach Adam Thomas thinks his 2016 team will handle this trip and the pressure of being No. 1 much better.
"That year, we went in as the No. 1 team in the country, and we thought we were the No. 1 team in the country," Thomas said. "Then after the big win over Delgado, then it was almost like we felt our way through the next two games, thinking 'are these teams really, really good.'
"What I have realized, everyone out there is good. If you make it to the world series, you are pretty dang good. Every team, including us, nobody is 'holy cow, we have no chance.' "
This year's Pirates (49-10) take a 17-game winning streak into Saturday's world series opener against No. 16 Harford (Md.). The game is set to start at 2 p.m.
"I love these guys," Thomas said. "We may not win a game, we may win it all, or fall somewhere in between. I guess those are the only three options.
"But in terms of the three teams I have had, this is the best built to win a national championship. I guess that is easy to say since we didn't win it all last year or the year before. But we are deeper on the mound. We are as dynamic as we can be on offense in terms of speed and power mixed. And we have defended very well on the infield.
The Pirates, who have averaged just over 8.5 runs per game, is led by Will Campbell. The outfielder leads the team in batting (.438), home runs (18), doubles (22), RBIs (77), hits (81), runs (74), OBP (.534) and slugging percentage (.859).
AJ Willoughby is hitting .348 and nine homers and 57 RBIs. Brandon Hill also has nine homers and 50 RBIs.
But the Pirates don't have to score a lot of runs to win. They are fourth in the nation in ERA at 2.66.
Other starters include Jordan Lee (9-2, 2.51), Chase Adkins (8-0, 0.90) and Logan Haner (7-1, 4.31).
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