By Joel Weckerly, Sports Editor
Whoever said there’s no such thing as a happy ending must’ve missed the last couple weeks of the ACU baseball team’s season, in which the Wildcats went from almost missing the playoffs to making their first Division II College World Series in school history.
ACU, which was coming off three straight Lone Star Conference championships, didn’t do well enough in the regular season to clinch the South Division title, then lost in the tournament championship to Southeastern Oklahoma. But after attaining a No. 3 ranking in the South Central Region, the Cats cleaned up that tournament with ease: ACU topped Central Oklahoma 9-5 in the first round, then spanked regional host Delta State-a team that had a 47-game home winning streak-with scores of 14-5 and 13-10 to boost itself into the College World Series.
The Cats didn’t exactly receive a warm welcome to the CWS in Montgomery, Ala., losing their first game of the eight-team tournament 14-2 to Tampa. Two days later, UC Davis sent them packing with a 5-3 win. But one thing ACU couldn’t lose was the good feeling of finally making the Series.
“Everything about it was what I thought and more,” said ACU head coach Britt Bonneau. “It took us a long time to get there; we’ve had roadblocks in regionals. But finally putting it together and getting over that hump…to finally get there feels pretty good.”
Then-sophomore pitcher Justin Wilson said that the trip to Montgomery was a great experience.
“It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had,” he said. “I’ve been playing baseball my whole life, and being there as a team is definitely one of my high moments.”
Bonneau said his team did a great job of bouncing back after playing poorly in conference.
“We didn’t take care of business in conference this year,” he said, “but we turned around in the regional. We hit. The pitching was outstanding. When you put pitching and hitting together, you win.”
Bonneau said that making the CWS sets a precedent for the Wildcats, who have made the leap from regional-caliber status to that of a title contender.
“It puts more pressure on the kids to show up this year,” he said. “They have to represent Abilene Christian. They have to prove they’re a championship team.”