Another amazing baseball season has ended for Chipola College with the Indians repeating as NJCAA National Champions. The Indians defeated Walters State (Tennessee) 10-7 in championship game.
Former Toombs County Bulldog D.R. Meadows made two big contributions to the victory. He drove in a run which put Chipola up by a run in the sixth inning.
Later in the game Meadows dazzled the crowd of more than 10,000 with an amazing catch. Playing left field D.R. raced back to catch a liner. Unfortunately, he lost his balance and went down to his back. Meadows made the catch while lying on the ground in the 7th inning.
So one season after helping lead the Toombs County Bulldogs to the Final Four in Double A baseball Meadows was given an opportunity to make a substantial impact on the most important games in the tourney, “I’m just glad I could fill the spot of one of our injured players and be productive with the playing time I got when I got my chance to perform!”
Meadows had never played in such an atmosphere as he experienced in Grand Junction, “At first it was very nerve racking then after that first at bat you just kind of settle in and enjoy the moment and the 10 thousand spectators around you.”
D.R. had faced some tough pitching in high school and especially during the summer time when he won a national championship playing for former Atlanta Brave catcher Johnny Estrada’s Game On team prior to his senior season with the Dawgs, however high level junior college pitching was a different animal, “The pitching was definitely something like I’ve never seen most of the guys I faced got drafted this week and it’s just an awesome experience to be able to face that competition at that level of play.”
Meadows has one more season remaining at Chipola and he says he is really going to work hard during the off season to keep on improving, “This summer I’m going to workout and get stronger and more flexible to gain some skill that I lack a little such as velocity with the arm and just work on my game fundamentally.”
— NJCAA TV (@NJCAATV) June 3, 2018
Father Ray, who coached D.R. during his earlier years made the long trip from Savannah to Colorado and watched every game, “Being able to watch my son play baseball on a national level such as the Junior College World Series and contributing to the team’s success the way he did was almost surreal. And for Chipola to lose their first game (which Coach Johnson called their mulligan) only to come back and win six in a row to win the national championship was an experience second to none. Add to that the surroundings, including the scenery (canyons, etc), weather (low humidity, no rain) and the people (outstanding local support for the tournament, including 10,000 plus in attendance each day), all made it seem like a dream come true. We are very proud of DR!”
Mother Salain was unable to attend the World Series, “Because of back surgeries in March I was not able to travel to the biggest games thus far in DRs life. My daddy had the perfect setup though for us to watch D.R’s games through the Internet. Megan (daughter) bought a cable to connect the computer to the big screen TV so it was like we were watching the games on television. I still had the same nervous feelings before games and still felt the need to pace during the games but that didn’t work out so well being in the living room. The games were just as exciting, the only drawback was I couldn’t be there to see D.R. after the games. Between Ray and Connie Howell (Jared’s mom) they texted me throughout the games and made me feel like I was with them. I had the advantage of seeing replays of questionable calls and was able to see replays of the really great plays that happened. The Wednesday night game almost caused me to need another back surgery when D.R. made the throw to home to keep them in the tournament. There was a lot of cheering and yelling going on in the house for sure. I always checked the computer and the games prior to ours to make sure the connection worked. By the semifinal and final games my phone had about 15 different people watching the game via Internet and we literally talked by texting throughout both games. Those texts included you and your mom, so you saw the excitement of these games.”
“When D.R. had those impact moments at the Florida State Tourney I realized that this would be the largest stage he’d ever played in front of and hoped he could have the opportunity to make an impact there, I’d say you and I got our wish. The throw to home, the go ahead RBI and then the “catch” were simply amazing. While I was so proud of him for doing his job I was even happier for him. I’ve watched him since going to his first Braves game, and sitting in his daddy’s lap to watch an entire ballgame as a toddler, to winning his first tournament on the top field at Partin Park as a Slugger, to listening to a call of the State Championship in Mites, to watching them win District as Midgets and Junior league, to starting as a freshman and making it to the Elite 8, and then last year going to the Final Four were simply some of the most exciting times. But this year was a first for us watching him play at the next level and to see the level of competition that he was able to compete in was truly a blessing for all of us. We’ve watched him through the years working so hard to make himself better and to never settle. It took hours of practice and sweat and sacrifices for him to play at the next level. As his mom I’ve never been more proud of him and it’s not winning the Championship that makes me so proud. It’s the fact that he competed, made a difference and went into a press conference and remained the humble son his dad and I raised. While so many would jump on that moment to make themselves look good, D.R. was giving his team both on and off the field credit for the win. His love and passion for the game and his humble heart are what make me most proud of D.R.”