How does a junior college baseball coach celebrate winning the Alabama Community College Conference (Region 22) championship?
By doing laundry.
Saturday afternoon, less than 48 hours after leading his Pirates to their first ACCC title since 1996 and a berth in the JUCO world series, Chattahoochee Valley Community College coach Adam Thomas was working on the team's laundry.
Thomas, who is in his 16th season at CVCC, said he wasn't sure what he was supposed to be doing, but that he was figuring out as he went along.
"It hasn't sunk in yet," Thomas said. "Maybe when we get out there. It's just surreal."
The Pirates, who are the No. 1 ranked team in the national JUCO poll, will open play in the world series on Saturday night at 9:30 p.m. in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Their opponent will be the South Central champion. That region is made up of teams from Oklahoma, Missouri and Louisiana. That champion is scheduled to be determined today.
CVCC advanced to the world series when it beat Alabama Southern on Thursday at Ozark, Ala.
For Thomas, who had come up short in his previous trips as a coach, the win was a huge relief.
"It is like the eight-ton gorilla has been lifted off my back," Thomas said. "No, it seems more like 16 tons for every year I've been here.
"Like I have said before, I took several teams down there that were good enough to win. But this team was just different."
The key play of the tournament may well have come in the first meeting with Alabama Southern on Monday. The Pirates trailed by three runs heading to the bottom of the ninth. After scoring one run, the Pirates loaded the bases for Jared Martin, who hit a double into right center that scored all three base runners for the win.
"There is no doubt that was the tournament," Thomas said.
The school surprised Thomas and the Pirates by arranging for the team to receive an escort from the Russell County's Sheriff's Office once they reached the
county line on the trip home Thursday night.
On that trip home, Thomas' phone was busy as former players, parents and other well-wishers sent notes of congratulations.
"It has been awesome," Thomas said. "We are being treated like rock stars."
Thomas gave his players three days off. They will return to practice on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday will be a travel day. The team will practice in Grand Junction on Thursday.
"I told the guys (on Thursday) 'go enjoy and celebrate,'" Thomas said.
Kevin Price, 706-320-4493. Follow Kevin on Twitter @lesports