Warrior baseball season continues

Matthew Torrez led the Indian Hills baseball team to the 2021 JUCO World Series last season.

CENTERVILLE — No matter where the Indian Hills baseball team seems to go, Mother Nature seems to follow.

Weather forced the Warriors to improvise their schedule for another road trip, pushing up Friday's scheduled game at Baton Rouge one day with the four-game series moving to the Southeastern Louisiana University campus.

Indian Hills improved to 5-2 on the season, winning the rescheduled games with Baton Rouge. The Warriors allowed just one run in two games, winning 6-1 in the opener and 3-0 in the nightcap at Pat Kenelly Diamond, where the two teams will conclude the four-game series with a doubleheader on Sunday starting at 1 p.m.

The Warriors have covered three states over the first seven games of the season. The first two trips resulted in three wins in five games over sixth-ranked Cowley College in Kansas and ninth-ranked Crowder College in Missouri.

"Our guys are excited to get out and compete against outside competition," stated IHCC head coach Matthew Torrez. "We put together a challenging schedule early, along with an always challenging ICCAC schedule. It will be a fun year of baseball and I am excited to see our guys go out and compete."

The Warriors are coming off its first JUCO World Series appearance since 2004 after a thrilling run to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XI and NJCAA Midwest District championships. Indian Hills capped its season with a 1-2 record at the JUCO World Series and finished the year with a 44-16 overall mark.

For the first time in 18 years, Indian Hills features a roster that has World Series experience, a group that Torrez will look to lead the program to another successful campaign.

"We have a good core of players returning from our World Series run last year," Torrez said. "These guys will add experience to a group of talented young players who will need to get oriented to college baseball quickly as they will be asked to play big roles early."

Shortstop Ricardo Van Grieken returns after earning first-team all-region XI honors last year with a .335 batting average and .939 fielding percentage. Tucker Ebest brings a veteran bat to the lineup this year after a strong freshman campaign in 2021.

The Warriors will look to a pair of veteran pitchers in right-handed hurler Arturo Rodriguez and lefty Douglas Rojas, who combined for 24 appearances on the mound last season. While a number of freshmen will also look to contribute immediately for the Warriors, transfer Jack Payne brings NCAA pitching experience from Louisiana Tech and Greg Campos will provide innings from the right side of the mound.

Torrez, who enters his fourth season at Indian Hills after being named the ICCAC Coach of the Year last season, will look to a number of freshman bats including James Dutton, Daniel Figueroa and Adrian Vargas. The Warriors will make its first appearance at Pat Daugherty Field in Centerville on Tuesday with a doubleheader against St. Cloud Technical and Community College.

Indian Hills, who earned votes in the preseason NJCAA DI Baseball Poll, was picked to finish second in the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference (ICCAC) preseason poll behind Iowa Western Community College, ranked No. 13 in the current national rankings. The ultra-competitive NJCAA Region XI Tournament will be hosted by Indian Hills at Pat Daugherty Field May 12-14 as the Warriors have their sights set on another run to the JUCO World Series.

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