The World Series
In yet another first for Weatherford College, the Coyote baseball team recently made their first appearance in the NJCAA Division 1 World Series. The inaugural appearance at the beautiful Grand Junction, Colorado venue was the capstone of the most successful season in Coyote baseball history.
The Coyotes had a tremendous regular season that ended with a 2023 Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference championship and a 46-9 overall record. Weatherford College swept the top awards on the 2023 All-Conference team as voted by the coaches of the NTJCAC. Jeff Lightfoot was named Coach of the Year, Ryne Rodriguez won Pitcher of the Year, and Robin Villeneuve earned Hitter of the Year.
Due in part to having artificial turf and exceptional facilities, Weatherford College was chosen to host the NJCAA Region V Tournament for the first time in institution history. The five-day regional tournament not only spiked interest in collegiate baseball, it also had a substantial economic impact on the Weatherford business community.
As the regional tournament proceeded, the number one seed WC Coyotes did not disappoint. The top four teams from the NTJCAC and the top four from the Western Junior College Athletic Conference battled it out in the double-elimination tournament. One by one nationally ranked teams fell to our WC Coyotes. In an exciting finale, the Coyotes overcame New Mexico Junior College with a score of 15-13 to win the Region V Tournament championship. The now 50-9 Coyotes had earned admission to the World Series for the first time in Weatherford College history.
Fire trucks, police cars, and screaming fans provided the Coyotes with a memorable send-off to Grand Junction. Sailing on the euphoric high of a conference championship, and region championship, and an 18-game winning streak, the Coyotes were not lacking in confidence. Previously ranked number five in the nation, the Coyotes entered the College World Series as the number four seed.
Villeneuve hit a walk-off home run to give the Coyotes a thrilling 10-9 victory over Delgado Community College in the first game of the World Series. The Weatherford mayor, the Weatherford chamber president, a WC trustee, and countless fans made the trip to Grand Junction to support the Coyotes. For those who couldn’t make the trip, Brent Baker and Dave Cowley provide exceptional play-by-play coverage on “The Coyote” radio station.
The first World Series victory in WC history set the Coyotes up for a Memorial Day game against the number one seed Central Florida team…and was it memorable! As over 17 thousand fans listened on “The Coyote,” the WC Coyotes upset the top seed with a 14-6 blowout victory. The players went wild, the local Grand Junction crowd went wild, and countless Coyote radio listeners celebrated in delight.
The Coyotes ultimately fell just short of a national championship with heartbreaking loses to Wabash Valley and Central Florida. Weatherford College wrapped up the greatest baseball season in WC history with a third-place finish. Villeneuve ended up winning the national home run title with a season total of 28 home runs. He shattered the previous WC record of 16 home runs set by Tucker Oakley in 2010. Additionally, the NJCAA named Rodriguez and Villeneuve as baseball All-Americans, the first in WC baseball history.
The 2023 Coyote baseball season was exciting, it was memorable, and it was indicative of the excellence that is increasingly the norm in this wonderful place that we call home.
Tod Allen Farmer
President, Weatherford College