Covenant baseball finally breaks through at NCCAA World Series - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Covenant baseball finally breaks through at NCCAA World Series

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LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN, Ga. (WRCB) -- Doug Simons went into postseason mode Sunday afternoon.

The Covenant College baseball coach collected his teams jerseys and started making a few recruiting calls and notes, hoping to get a jump-start on the summer as his players went their separate ways.

Turns out, the summer will have to wait another week.

The Scots received an at-large invitation to the National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association World Series late Sunday, marking the first trip to the national tournament in the program's modern history.

They'll open the pool play portion of the ten-team bracket at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday against Arizona Christian in Mason, Ohio.

"The last three years we've been one game away, so it meant a lot this year to finally get that bid," Simons said. "I've never seen so many Facebook posts and Twitter posts and social media messages from these guys. They're really excited, and they should be.

"Making it to the world series has been our goal all year."

It's understandable that Simons and his team thought they'd missed their opportunity yet again after finishing third in last week's NCCAA Mid-East Region Tournament. While the region is extremely competitive, usually only the top two finishers advance.

And that held true this year, except that runner-up Trevecca Nazarene declined its bid to the World Series. That opened the door for Covenant as the next team out, and the Scots didn't think twice about accepting it.

"We'll definitely take it. No doubt about it," said Simons, whose team will enter as the No. 10 seed as a result. "People have underestimated us all year, so we've been sneaking up on people. I'm much happier being the No. 10 seed than the No. 1 seed."

The biggest challenge was getting the team back together, considering fifteen different states are represented on the Scots' 25-man roster. Several players were making their way back Monday from as far away as Missouri and Florida to join the team in Ohio on Tuesday, while others received the news just in time to reschedule some long-distance travel plans.

"Some of us were together when we got that text, and we just looked at each other," said freshman pitcher Alhanon Miller, who had been scheduled to fly home to Yakima, Washington, on Monday. "We were all just completely blown away by the news."

The Scots' surprise doesn't mean the rising program is just planning to enjoy the experience.

Covenant (28-15) was ranked in the nation's top ten for most of the year en route to a modern-era record for wins in a single season. The Scots also take confidence from a narrow 3-2 loss to Cambellsville, this week's No. 2 overall seed, early in the region tournament.

"I don't think anyone thinks we don't deserve this," said junior outfielder and former Hixson High star Chris Rollins. "We put together a heck of a year and we definitely believe we belong there."

It may just be the start of a string of postseason appearances for Covenant, which seems primed for a breakthrough when it moves up to Division III next year thanks to a roster that includes 19 freshmen and sophomores.

But first, the Scots plan to make the most of their second chance in 2013 and see just how far this new life will take them.

"It's everything that you work for," said Miller. "All the hours in the offseason, all the practices and all the games won, they count for something now, so we're very excited."

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