The season started out slow for the Santa Fe College baseball team, which dropped to 7-7 following a loss to Hillsborough Community College on Feb. 23.
However, the Saints (29-11, 18-4 MFC) went on to win 22 of their final 26 games and clinched the program’s 11th Mid-Florida Conference (MFC) championship. Santa Fe has won four of the last five MFC titles, and nine of the last 14.
Santa Fe will be making its sixth consecutive trip to the FCSAA State Tournament under Mid-Florida Conference coach of the year Johnny Wiggs, who is in his 15th season with the Saints.
“We are super excited about being Mid-Florida Conference Champions and getting the opportunity to be in the final eight teams to compete for a State Championship and World Series berth," Wiggs said. "We have been here quite a bit but never take these opportunities for granted."
It’s the 11th trip to the state tournament in 14 seasons (the 2020 season was cut short due to COVID-19) under Wiggs.
"I’m really proud of our guys and how they handled this 'COVID' year," Wiggs said. "We had some bumps in the road but really got it going middle of the year and got it done in conference, going 18-4."
The Saints rank No. 24 in the nation in ERA (3.73) while boasting the conference’s top pitcher and reliever.
Santa Fe ace Robb Adams was named the MFC Pitcher of the Year. Adams (6-1) ranks eighth nationally (NJCAA Division I) in innings pitched (72) and 10th nationally/third in FCSAA with a 1.75 ERA. He leads the team with 73 strikeouts.
Tyler Shelnut was named the Mid-Florida Conference Fireman of the Year, given to the league's best reliever.
The former Fort White High School standout has 12 saves on the season, which puts him at No. 2 in the nation in NJCAA Division I.
Offensively, the Saints are led by sophomore Luis Rodriguez from Guarenas, Venezuela.
The First Team All Mid-Florida Conference selection leads Santa Fe in at-bats (142), hits (51), doubles (17), home runs (9), RBI (48), and slugging percentage (.683), while ranking second on the team in batting average (.359) and third in runs scored (33).
Rodriguez, who is currently riding an 11-game hitting streak, is fourth in the FCSAA in doubles (17), fifth in RBI (48), and ninth in home runs (9).
Shelnut was also named second team all-conference as a designated hitter. His 27 RBI rank second on the team behind Rodriguez, and he has been walked a team-high 20 times.
A total of seven Santa Fe players received All Mid-Florida Conference recognition—Adams, Shelnut, Rodriguez, P Mitchell Gross (7-2, 3.29 ERA), INF Jonathan Logsdon (.312 with 38 runs scored, 24 RBI), OF Dylan Mock (team-leading .376 avg.) and OF Coy Phillips (.328).
Santa Fe, which is ranked No. 2 in the state and No. 8 in the NJCAA Division I Poll, will face Northwest Florida State College of Niceville in Wednesday’s FCSAA/NJCAA Gulf District Baseball Tournament at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland.
The Raiders (29-15) were the Panhandle Conference runners-up.
"The competition is great here, but I believe our guys will be ready to play," Wiggs said.
The double-elimination, eight team tournament will run from May 5-9.
Wednesday, May 5 – Day #1 schedule:
- Florida Southwestern State College vs. Indian River State College, 10 a.m.
- Santa Fe College vs. Northwest Florida State College, 1 p.m.
- Miami Dade College vs. Polk State College, 4 p.m.
- Pensacola State College vs. Seminole State College, 7 p.m.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct Santa Fe College's state ranking and add quotes from Johnny Wiggs.