The Chattahoochee Valley Community College baseball team made the long trip to Grand Junction, Colo., on Wednesday, three days before it was set to begin play in the junior college world series.
More than just a local team representing the Bi-City area in such a big college sporting event, the Pirates have seven players representing five different local high schools.
Tyler and Daniel Lynn are carrying the torch for Smiths Station, while Drew Lingo and Tim Kennedy represent Brookstone. There is also Will Tillery (Shaw), Hunter Mitchell (Northside) and Matt Evenson (Central).
For them, it's more than just an opportunity to earn a national title for their school, but a way to shed more light on the incredible baseball tradition in the area.
"Everybody around here knows the quality of baseball in the Phenix City-Columbus area," Pirates coach Adam Thomas said. "That's no secret. We always want to get the best local talent we can get. We don't always get them, but we want to get the best ones. We've got some pretty good ones now."
CVCC, ranked No. 1 in the nation for most of the season, opens the world series at 9:30 p.m. tonight against No. 2 Delgado. The brackets are drawn up prior to the teams getting to the tournament with specific regions matched up in the first round.
Tyler Lynn and Hunter Mitchell have likely had the biggest impact of the seven.
Tyler originally signed with Auburn before deciding to come play at Chattahoochee Valley prior to his freshman season.
He was concerned about playing time with the Tigers. With the Pirates, he's made a huge impact with a .367 average and 31 RBIs in 139 at-bats.
"He's a stud," Thomas said of Tyler.
Mitchell is one of two players who operate as the No. 2 starter behind ace Dalton Rentz. In 12 games, 11 starts, Mitchell has a 7-3 record, a 2.31 earned run average and 57 strikeouts.
"You talk about an 'it' factor, Hunter's got it too," Thomas said.
Evenson won four games in 12 appearances on the mound as well. The others, while statistics might not show the contribution, have all pushed the team and represented the area in one way or the other.
"It's just awesome," Mitchell said. "Everyone's clicked. And what's so special about it is that everyone just gets after it on their own. Nothing has to be said (by the coaches)."
Local support for the players has been great, both Tyler Lynn and Mitchell said. The crowds have been good, and they hear from friends and coaches on a regular basis.
"They follow me, catch games online and check out the tournaments and stuff," Mitchell said. "I get a lot of calls from friends from high school who have just been super supportive, wishing us luck. Having all the local support has been great. We're starting to see more people out at the games."
Local friends and fans, for the most part, will have to keep tabs on the team from afar during the JUCO world series.
One way or another, though, the local contingent of players are going to represent them well.
"It's exciting," Thomas said. "They're playing for their hometown school. There's got to be a lot of pride in that."