Just across the Alabama state line, minutes from Columbus, Ga., is Phenix City, the home of Chattahoochee Valley Community College.
It's a two-year school nestled between Division II baseball national champion Columbus State University and Southeastern Conference power Auburn. CVCC may not get a ton of attention, but they have an outstanding program of their own. The pirates currently are 25-10 overall and 7-3 - good enough for first place - in the Alabama Junior and Community College Conference.
Head coach Adam Thomas, who's in his fourth season at the helm of the CVCC program, probably is thanking his lucky stars that he set up a pipeline from Harlem High School to Phenix City.
Four former Bulldogs have helped guide the Pirates to their hot start this season. Bob Hatcher, Justin Sheppard, Clete Stewart and Johnny Dobbs all play major roles for CVCC.
Hatcher, the team's starting catcher, is second on the team with a .353 batting average. He is second on the team with 30 hits and leads the team with seven doubles. Hatcher also threw out 11 of 37 base runners attempting to steal. His fielding percentage is .982.
Sheppard is third on the team hitting at .333. He also is tied for the team lead in both home runs, four, and RBIs, 17. The smooth outfielder also has a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.
Dobbs and Stewart have been outstanding on the mound for CCVC.
Dobbs is putting together a particularly special 2003. He is 6-0 with six saves in 13 appearances. He also has an ERA of 2.17 and has 39 strikeouts in 42 innings.
Even more impressive for Dobbs is the fact that opponents are hitting just .197 against him.
The versatile Stewart has been solid on the mound and at the plate. Stewart is hitting .250 with six hits in 24 at-bats in spot duty. On the hill, Stewart's 2.21 ERA is among the best on the team.
With the performance of these former Bulldogs you don't have to be a mind-reader to know that Coach Thomas will be recruiting in Columbia County for years to come.
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