When you are a key contributor on a national championship team probably the last thing on your mind is you won’t be coming back to try and help that team repeat the following season. That is exactly the situation D.R. Meadows found himself in when he met with his head coach Jeff Johnson after all the hoopla had died down after the Chipola Indians had beaten Walters State 10-7 to earn the NJCAA National Championship. He was a ball player without a team and he wasn’t the only one. Less than a handful of those eligible to return were invited back for the 2019 season.
“At the end (season) meeting the coach (Johnson) said you proved yourself on the field and we want you to come back, but we’re not sure if the (scholarship) money is there because during the regular season he had already signed a bunch of people.” Meadows said. “So, then we had to wait a week and one of the guys who he thought was going to be drafted didn’t get drafted. So, they didn’t have any money left.”
Needless to say D.R. and all the Indians were surprised. “Yeah it was and everybody was shocked like all the teammates and there were a few more guys who contributed a lot who aren’t coming back.”
D.R.’s only season at Chipola was highlighted by him making many big plays in many big games. In the FCSAA Tourney, Meadows drove in the game-winning run, with an infield hit, to break an 8-8 tie in the bottom of the ninth with Santa Fe- the highest ranked team in the tourney. In the conference championship game D.R. went 1-for-2 with a double and reached base three times in the Indians 5-0 win over Hillsborough. That victory sent Chipola to Grand Junction, Colorado with a chance to repeat as national champions.
Meadows first magic moment in the national tourney came in game four. With the score tied at 13-all in the bottom of the ninth D.R. scooped up a single in left field and threw a perfect strike to home plate allowing catcher Alex Webb to tag out not only the potential game-winning run, but the run which would have ended Chipola’s season. In the championship game Meadows had a RBI single and made a highlight reel catch in left field.
Meadows had a base hit in six of the seven games he played in the tournament. He went 6-for-22 batting .273 with a double, three RBI, four runs scored, four walks and seven strikeouts.
For the season D.R. hit .274 with a .358 on base percentage. He drove in 12 runs and scored 19.
Meadows was cut loose by Chipola in June after most four-year and two-year schools had set their rosters for the next school year. However, one quality program had an open spot and it was South Georgia State College in Douglas. “Yeah it was kind of late when they did, so I called around and East Georgia wanted me to come there, but South Georgia is bringing in a good team this year and they didn’t have any problems bringing me in.”
Last year South Georgia went 42-18 and the Hawks’ season came to an end in the conference tourney with 5-1 loss to ABAC in the championship game.
Cody Ogilvie, one of D.R.’s friends and a former teammate and competitor, is also at South Georgia. Meadows and Ogilvie both won a national championship in the summer of 2016 playing for GameOn and more recently they competed against each other in the 2017 GHSA State Semifinal Series at Jeff Davis. D.R. started game one on the mound for the Toombs County Bulldogs and Ogilvie started game two for the Yellow Jackets.
“Cody Ogilvie was a big part of me wanting to go to South Georgia. He said that they got a lot of good pitching coming in and the outfield is going to be stacked and the infield is wide open for me. They were ranked as high as number 19 in the country last year. So it’s a good start.”
D.R. has been a shortstop basically his whole career going all the way back to Mite games at Little Fenway. However, at Chipola that position was occupied by Morgan McCullough, who transferred in from Oregon and after one season at Chipola signed with the University of Alabama. Meadows played primarily in the outfield- left in particular. But, he also played right field, first base and even pitched. His only chance to get some middle infield action was in practice. “During practice I did a little bit. I switched in and out in case somebody got hurt”
Meadows will be moving from one of the toughest junior college leagues in the country to the GCAA and will be playing against East Georgia, Andrew College, ABAC, Gordon (Barnesville), Georgia Highlands (Rome) and West Georgia Tech in Carrollton. “The Panhandle Conference was the toughest conference in the country and we didn’t see any pitching under 88 miles per hour. We played some Georgia teams and they didn’t show us 93 to 95. It will help me to help the others to try to get better.”
This summer D.R. had some offers to play in some collegiate summer ball leagues, but instead after a long season (fall and spring and nearly in to the summer) he decided to hang around his home base in Toombs County and continue working on his game. “I’ve been taking more ground balls and keying in my hitting to where I left off coming out at Chipola. I want to get stronger and hit more doubles, gappers and maybe home runs.”
Meadows has one more season of junior college ball remaining and then his options are to seek a four-year school or if he has a big season he might hear his name called out in the Major League Draft next June. “I am potentially looking for a four-year school, but if the season goes really, really well and I happened to get drafted, I’ll be down with that too.”
D.R. and the South Georgia Hawks will play a fall schedule of practice games and then start the 2019 regular season in late January. All his home games will be played in Douglas- just 62 miles down Georgia Highway 221- which is much closer for his family and friends than the 224 mile trip to Marianna, Florida. “It’ll be nice and it’ll be easier for family and friends to come see me play and I feel lucky to still be playing.”