ENID, Okla.— Regardless of the level, the stakes or their age, every young baseball player has the same dream. For some, the dream is just that, vanishing at daybreak until the next night.
For Pearl River's No. 1-seeded Wildcats, the dream now seems tangible.
"(Winning the Region XXIII Tournament) was a huge accomplishment. It's the toughest region in Division-II baseball. But the World Series is the ultimate goal. If you hear that and you don't get excited I don't know what will," Avalon said. "That's why every baseball player plays the game. Growing up in the backyard you played in a Game 7 of the World Series whether you were hitting or pitching. That's what you grow up dreaming about.
"These guys have that opportunity now to make their dreams come true. My challenge to them is to just focus on two things and that's your focus and your effort."
The World Series features a 10-team, double-elimination format. The tournament begins at 10 a.m. Saturday between No. 8 Pasco-Hernando (31-23 overall) and No. 9 Lackawanna (32-15). The Wildcats (40-12) will get the winner at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Whoever PRCC faces in its opener, Avalon said the team will need to be prepared.
"I think the big thing we have told them is to take advantage of the opportunity that's sitting in front of them. Realize what an opportunity this is. I think the only way to accomplish that is through two things and that's energy and focus," Avalon said. "That's something we talked a lot about in the Region Tournament. That's the same thing we're going to focus on this week with the kicker being the want to.
"I think they want to, that's a given but I think the way they make that happen is through their energy and their focus."
DAY BY DAY
Coming in as the No. 1 seed and one of the few teams represented in the last NJCAA regular season rankings, the Wildcats know there's a target on their backs. Avalon in turn has reminded the team to not get ahead of themselves.
"Coach Avalon has been preaching that we have to take it day by day and game by game," freshman third baseman Austen Izzio (Carriere; Pearl River Central) said. "I think that's our main mindset when we get up there — just worry about what we do."
Even before the Wildcats reported for the fall semester, Avalon began instilling a belief in them that Enid, Oklahoma, was possible.
"Every day this year the World Series logo has been on our monitor in the locker room and that's been our goal," outfielder and pitcher Trenton Lee (Picayune) said.
Now the Wildcats won't have to see the logo on the Artigues Family Clubhouse monitor — or in their dreams. After a long two-day bus ride west, the Wildcats are face to face with David Allen Ballpark, their collective dream finally within reach.
Tournament passes are available for $50. Adults are $10 per game; children are $5.
HOW TO TUNE IN
The games will be broadcast on WRJW 1320 AM and WRJWRadio.com with Carey Meitzler calling the action and Mark Franklin providing commentary. The games will also be streamed at NJCAATV.org for a fee. Photos, videos and recaps will also be available post-game at PRCCAthletics.com.