By Steve Seagle

sseagle@cullmantimes.com

Wallace State may not have won the Junior College World Series, but the Lions will travel back to Hanceville with honor after a very successful season.

Wallace State started off the JUCO World Series with a 6-5 win against Yavapai, which was an incredible feat in itself. Yavapai was considered the biggest hurdle for any team in winning the World Series.

Wallace State then went on to defeat Potomac State 12-7. Wallace was then eliminated after losses to Walters State and Yavapai.

“I think it was a tremendous feat just getting to Grand Junction (Colo.),” Putman said. “We played great the last few weeks of the season. To beat Yavapai was unbelievable this weekend and we got beat by the two teams that are playing for the national championship.”

After going 8-4 through February, the Lions picked things up in March with wins against key wins against Gadsden, Shelton and Bevill State-Sumiton.

“I think that we played very inexperienced early,” Putman said. “They had to get used to playing at the collegiate level and we began to come together.”

The Lions started off April in a big way with three wins over 10 runs to get things started. After winning four-of-five against Snead, Wallace hit a mid-month slump losing three straight games to Cleveland State, Jeff State and Calhoun.

“That was a disturbing time of the year for us,” Putman said. “We have won 90 percent of our games in April and May over past few seasons. We usually dominate around that time and we just lost our focus. We had a few team meetings and got over that valley, it was just a hill we had to climb.”

Putman described the season as several peaks and valley’s and Wallace State peaked at just the right time.

Wallace State ended the month of April with back-to-back wins against Northwest Shoals and swept Bevill-Fayette to start of the month of May. After dropping a 13-2 loss two days later to Bevill, Wallace finished the regular season with two more wins against Bevill.

“I think the sweep of Northwest Shoals was a defining moment,” Putman said. “It gave us a lot of hope that we could be an excellent ball club and we ended up the fourth best team in the nation.”

Wallace then moved on to win the ACCC Championship going undefeated in the tournament two years in a row.

Wallace State faced Lurleen B Wallace, Wallace State - Dothan and Southern Union twice on its way to the title.

“It’s big two win two years in a row,” Putman said. “We knew if we could win we could compete in the World Series. Last year it was not as tough to win the state title. This year we faced some excellent ball clubs and it was a lot of tough competition.”

Wallace State baseball has put itself in a great position under the direction of Putman. The team will be returning 20 players from the total roster of 27.

The sophomore losses for Wallace include Cole Thornton, Brandon Lee, Daine Solomon, Matt Andrews, Rodney Woodson, Wes Yakopcic and Ben Erichsen.

Cullman’s own Lee finished his career at Wallace establishing himself as a solid corner. Thorton will be leaving the team after contributing for saves for the Lions this season. Andrews will be leaving the team after being ranked No. 1 in the ACCC with a perfect fielding percentage.

Solomon will missed on base next season for the lions, as he posses great base running ability. Solomon also played every inning of every game for the lions this season. Woodson will greatly missed on the mound giving up just 6.86 hits per game this season.

“All those guys that are moving on have been solid players for us,” Putman said. “They will be greatly missed and it was a great season considering the number of freshman we had.”

With 20 players returning and several key starters returning, Wallace looks set to make another run at an ACCC Championship and the JUCO World Series.

“I think we will be solid overall,” Putman said. “We have a lot of key players coming back that had excellent numbers. I think for the rising sophomores it was a tough way to end the year but I think we will have a chance to repeat as state champions.”

Putman said the season overall has been a success and he is looking forward to next season.

“We have built the program to where we feel we are competing on a national level,” Putman said. “Our desire is the same as it has always been; win. We were one game away from playing for the national championship this year and we are going to strive to get there next year.”

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