Earlier this week, Sterling College baseball coach Adrian Dinkel raised an interesting question: Why can’t the Warriors seem to get players out of the Jayhawk Conference?
One of the junior college level’s better leagues does send a good chunk of players on to NCAA Division I and Division II schools, but there have to be players – some who aren’t getting those offers – that have to be setting their sights lower in the NAIA ranks.
And they have a pretty good in-state option in Sterling, a Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference powerhouse the last two years.
Just look what Dinkel has done. He inherited a floundering program that had posted only one winning season before his arrival as an assistant coach in 2011. The Warriors were 96-145 overall, 54-65 in the KCAC and just 47-52 at home from 2006-2010.
With Dinkel serving as an assistant under Jared Hamilton in ’11, Sterling finished three games over .500 but had a more-than-respectable 20-8 mark in conference play.
Then, when Dinkel took over as the head skipper last year, the Warriors caught fire. Since the start of 2012, the Warriors are 91-26 (including Thursday’s National Opening Round win over Science and Arts, Okla.) with a 45-11 mark in conference and great records at (46-7) and away (45-19) from Sterling’s Baseball Field.
I did bend the ear of The News’ chief JUCO correspondent – the venerable Brad Hallier – on th
e subject and he said “the vast majority” of players in the Jayhawk do go on to NCAA schools.
But Sterling plucks more than a third of its roster – 16 of 36 – from California community colleges. Nine more players come from out-of-state JUCOs: two from Idaho, two from Utah and one apiece from Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana and Texas.
A handful of transfers from four-year colleges (D-Is like New Mexico State and Lousiana-Lafayette) and prep players round out the roster.
Note: There are only three Kansans on the roster. Tyler Deutscher (Solomon) and Danny Finder (Kingman) came straight from high school while Adam Smith (Topeka) transferred from Tennessee Wesleyan.
And it would seem like bringing kids from all over the country to Kansas would be a harder sell then snagging them when they’ve already been playing here.
Dinkel did say he has a commitment from a Barton County player for next year. But in his two seasons, Sterling still hasn’t roped anyone from Hutchinson Community College – a mere 30 minutes away – or any other Jayhawk s
There are limitations to recruiting talented players to Sterling but winning programs are always attractive.
“That’s the only thing you can sell,” Dinkel said of success. “The bottom line is it’s a tough sell. It’s not like Sterling is a metropolis, but kids will go if you win. You’re going to fight your battles and lose with some of these bigger NAIA schools because of money.”
The Warriors still have a lot to offer for those players who want to stay in-state.
Interesting? What say you Hutch News readers?
-Lucas Fahrer, The Fahrer Side