The primary goal this season for head baseball coach Wayne King was to right the ship after last season’s disappointing 24-25 finish.
King’s program isn’t one for losing seasons, having only experienced a handful of them in his previous 27 seasons.
For a team with 17 returning sophomores and an impressive, but unpredictable freshmen infusion, the writing was on the wall for a bounce back season.
Ranked number one in the preseason, the Wolves would have to open the season with their backs against the wall.
After a 3-8 start that saw the team travelling to St. Louis and Nashville to open the season after a "spring" training forced exclusively indoors thanks to Winter Apocalypse 2014.
The Wolves returned home where they would win their first 11 home bouts and run off a 17-2 streak over the next 19 games to propel the team back into the Top 10 poll.
The turnaround this season could not have been possible without the team’s electric offense, which has consistently turned out great performances throughout the season.
BY THE NUMBERS
JJC has been on fire at the plate all season, producing numbers that rank at, or near, the very top in the league. Here’s how the team and players finished:
-Ranked 1st in hits (578)
-Ranked 1st in triples (33)
-Ranked 2nd in total bases (780)
-Ranked 3rd in doubles (103)
-Ranked 3rd in runs (408)
-Ranked 5th in walks (180)
-Ranked 7th in team batting average (359)
-Ranked 7th in batters hit by pitch (51)
-Ranked 9th in slugging percentage (.484)
-Ranked 12th in on base percentage (.434)
-Catcher T.J. Condon (.440) and INF Ben Kirchler (.432) rank 17th and 21st, respectively, in batting average in the league.
-INF Nick Fleischauer (39), OF Matt Filkins (34), Kirchler (33) and Condon (33) rank 25th, 35th, 40th, and 49th in the league in runs scored.
-Kirchler (60), Condon (59), and Fleischauer (51) rank 14th, 15th, and 31st in the league in hits.
-Condon ranks in the top 10 in the league in slugging, wielding the big stick at a .709 clip, good for 7th overall.
Wolves pollute the top 50 in the league in RBIs, with the freshman catching duo of Colten Trager (44) and Condon (40) finishing 11th and 15th, while Filkins (30) and Fleischauer (31) sit 43rd and 39th, respectively.
On the mound
The team’s pitching staff comes armed with a rotation filled with workhorses who are both inning eaters and winners.
-RHP Kevin Ruff (7-2, 2.67 ERA) is 11th in innings pitched with 64.0.
-RHP Josh Wojnarowski (4-3, 4.67 ERA) is 13th in innings pitched with 61.2.
-LHP Josh Jimenez (8-1, 1.96 ERA) is 15th in innings pitched with 59.2.
-RHP Thomas Goodyear (6-1, 3.53 ERA) is 26th in innings pitched with 51.0.
-RHP Matt DeGraw (5-3, 4.30 ERA) is 17th in innings pitched with 58.2.
Other notable pitching stats:
-Ruff is tied for second in the league in complete games (6).
-Jimenez is 8th in the league in strikeouts (60) and is tied for 1st in the league in wins (8).
-Goodyear is 6th in the league in walks (33).
-T.J. Condon actually comes in as tied for 12th in the league in saves (2).
By riding his five horses into battle and refusing to be quick with the hook, King has given his starters a chance to stretch themselves out while avoiding using a troublesome and limited bullpen.
The Wolves finished the season 35-17, ranked 9th in the National Top 10 poll.
Region IV Sectionals are due to begin on Saturday, May 10 where JJC will likely host for a chance to advance to Schaumburg and the Region IV Tournament, which takes place Friday, May 16 thru Sunday, May 18.
It’s been a successful turnaround for Wayne King’s legendary program, but no comeback is complete without postseason glory. With this offense, and that rotation, there’s no limit to what these boys can do if they remain focused and stay hungry.
The numbers don’t lie.