Southwest Tennessee Community College

May 7, 2004

For more information, contact: Keith Gentry (901) 333-4114 or Kimberly Stark (901) 333-4023


The Southwest baseball team will take on Columbia State in the first round of the Tennessee Junior and Community College Athletic Association/Region VII Tournament on Monday, May 10, at 4 p.m. The tournament will be held at historic Engel Stadium in Chattanooga.

The Saluqis enter the tournament with a 36-19 overall record and earned the number four seed by finishing with a 17-11 record in the TJCCAA. It is the fifth straight season Southwest has won at least 30 games and need just one more win to tie the school record of 37 victories, set by the 2000 Saluqis’ squad. Columbia State enters the tournament as the fifth seed with a record of 26-21 overall and 16-12 in the conference.

Other first round games on Monday will feature sixth-seed Hiwassee (30-24 overall, 15-15 in TJCCAA) vs. third-seed Jackson State (34-19, 19-11) at 10 a.m., seventh-seed Dyersburg State (30-18, 12-14) vs. second-seed Motlow State (34-15, 19-11) at 1 p.m., and eighth-seed Cleveland State (23-24, 12-18) vs. Walters State (44-9, 24-6) at 7 p.m. Walters State was the regular season conference champion and is the fifth-ranked team in the National Junior College Athletic Association.

The tournament championship game is scheduled for Friday, May 14, at 3 p.m. The winner will advance to the East Central District championship series against the Georgia champion on May 21-23. The District champion will play in the NJCAA Division I World Series May 29-June 5 in Grand Junction, Colorado.

”We’re looking forward to the opportunity to compete for a region championship,” said Southwest head coach Johnny Ray. “We’re playing as well as we have all year, and we feel we have a good chance to go deep in the tournament.” Ray is in his first year as the Saluqis’ head coach after serving as associate head coach and pitching coach for four seasons. A former professional pitcher in the Cincinnati Reds organization, Ray played for the Chattanooga Lookouts in 1992-93 and is returning to Engel Stadium, which was the home stadium for the Lookouts at the time he played.

Southwest is led by sophomore catcher Nick Smith, who is the second leading hitter in the conference with a .444 batting average, and leads the TJCCAA in hits, doubles, and runs batted in. Smith has already set single season school records with 69 runs batted in, 28 doubles, 133 total bases, and his 76 hits ties the record. In addition, he has set career records for home runs (18), runs batted in (121), doubles (43), and total bases (235).

Other top hitters for the Saluqis are freshman leftfielder Brit Vincent (.398, 11 doubles, 2 home runs, 21 RBI), right fielder Josh Meeker (.359, 8 doubles, 26 RBI), sophomore shortstop Dustin Shields (.357, 7 doubles, 19 RBI), freshman infielder Wes Melton (.357, 7 doubles, 18 RBI), and freshman centerfielder Chris Rogers (.353, 24 doubles, 4 home runs, 41 RBI).

Sophomore closer Drew Buford leads the Saluqis’ pitching staff with a 1.76 earned run average and a school-record 10 saves. Buford has also set the school record for saves in a career with 16. Sophomore Daniel Adams is the number-one starter with a 5-2 record, 3.89 ERA, and a team-leading 83 strikeouts, which is the third highest single season total in school history and 13 shy of Charlie Lea’s record of 96 set in 1977. Other starting pitchers for the Saluqis are sophomores Josh Meeker (8-1 record, 52 strikeouts), Charlie Ligon (4-1 record, 47 strikeouts), Jamie Carrico (3-5 record, 55 strikeouts), and Michael Steele (7-3 record, 32 strikeouts).