By PHCC Athletic Dept.
Any team or student-athlete that competed in 2021 surely faced challenges and adversity. Patrick Henry Community College’s Baseball team was no exception. Despite injuries and the many challenges brought on by COVID-19, the Patriots pushed through and ended the season as District Champions.
Now they have a chance to compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) World Series in Enid, Oklahoma. But the challenges are not entirely behind them. To get to the World Series, the team will need more than the dedication and willpower they’ve given all year –they’ll need an entire community to pitch in. (More on how to help below.)
On May 18, the Patriots won the Region 10 and South Atlantic District championship –a feat that PHCC Baseball teams have never accomplished before. Any championship title is always hard-won, but for the Patriots, the road to victory was wrought with exceptional, unexpected challenges. The pitching staff was setback with major injury. A few players fell ill with COVID-19. Despite every setback, Coach Cody Ellis (a PHCC Alum) led his players to the greatest victory in over a decade of PHCC Baseball.
The Patriots lost the second round of the Region 10 tournament, leaving them to fight it out in the losers’ bracket. But the team seized the moment and rallied to win four elimination games over two days before defeating Pitt Community College to clinch the championship.
“This is something I envisioned ten years ago as a player,” said coach Ellis. “To be back here at PHCC as a coach and to win a championship with this group, has been nothing short of amazing. That was our goal from day one, but the credit goes to the players. They work as hard as any team I have ever played on or coached. Their hard work paid off big time when the lights were brightest last week.”
As the Patriots prepare to leave for World Series next week, they face significant challenges. The PHCC Administration is committed to help make the trip possible. And the PHCC Foundation also created a GoFundMe page for the team. Within the first three days, the Internet fund-raiser generated a quarter of the $25,000 the team will need.
Several former players and coaches have reached out to the team to offer their congratulations. PHCC baseball has competed since 2006 when it joined the NJCAA and has fielded more than 2500 student-athletes during that time span.
Brian Henderson, Athletic Director of Patrick Henry Community College said, “I have watched the video almost 50 times of Coach Ellis, Coach Nania, and Coach Powell hug after the final out at the district tournament, and it just makes me smile. Seeing the players dogpile, watching our third-year sophomores celebrate with tears in their eyes, and hearing the many parents and fans of our PHamily scream with excitement… these are the things that makes athletics so much Bigger than just Ball.”
“This team will go down in history as the first to win a baseball championship,” said coach Ellis. “I couldn’t be more excited to compete for a World Series title on the biggest stage in Oklahoma, than with this team.”
“Going to Enid, Oklahoma is an honor for this program,” said Coach Brandon Nania (PHCC Alum). “We believed we were the best in the country and now we have earned the chance to compete with the best. We only have one goal and that’s to bring a National Championship back to Patrick Henry Community College.”
The week-long 2021 NJCAA Division II Baseball World Series begins May 29 at David Allen Memorial Ballpark in Enid, Oklahoma. You can follow the competition here.
To visit the Patriots’ GoFundMe page, click here.