This time last year, Coach Tony Cirelli was alongside his players as the Thunderbird baseball team ended the fall season and started to look forward to the spring season. Or the real season, as most players and coaches like to call it.
To reach the end of the fall baseball season, the Thunderbirds’ had to get past Gateway Community College at home and a final game against Phoenix College before Cirelli and his players could start thinking about spring ball.
The team performed well at home, winning 8-3 against the Gateway Geckos. They had a harder time eking out a win at Phoenix, yet prevailed in a 3-1 victory.
The season ending games against both schools are all just part of the shorter 12-game fall season.
It prepares most National Junior College Athletic Association teams for the following spring to make a run at the regional championship, and then a possible run for at the NJCAA National Championship.
The team wants to continue its success in years past by attempting to make their fourth NJCAA World Series appearance in the last five years.
The MCC baseball program has a long and storied tradition, starting back in 1966 when the late Jim Brock coached at Mesa.
Both Coach Brock and his successor Jim Frye have been inducted into the NJCAA Hall Of Fame and put the MCC baseball program on the NJCAA map.
Now, with more than 500 wins in his career with the MCC Thunderbirds, Coach Cirelli continues to further the teams reputation of success.
Cirelli is especially looking forward to the next half of the team’s baseball season.
“It’s a great time for these guys,” said Cirelli, “They’ve worked so hard since coming to Mesa, and each and every one of them are wanting to improve out on the field.”
The combination of returning sophomores and quality freshman round out another team quite capable of making it to the postseason.
The team wants nothing less than a playoff birth and a regional championship.
The spring season kicks off soon after students begin the 2009 spring semester.