Cowley College baseball coach Dave Burroughs prefers the current format of the Region VI Tournament — eight teams competing Friday through Tuesday at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
That’s not to say he disliked the old four-team format. Or the one before that, which played best-of-three between just two teams.
The key, of course, is that the Tigers are there, whatever way they decided to play it.
In the end, that’s all Burroughs is really worried about.
“I think this way, with more teams, is better exposure for the guys because the (four-year schools) are having to choose between all these region tournaments, will likely come to one where they can see the most players,” Burroughs said. “But I’m always learning stuff about this crazy game we all love ... I don’t ever think that I’m right and everybody else is wrong when it comes to (the format). I enjoyed the other ways we did it, too.”
Cowley (44-9), ranked No. 2 in the latest NJCAA Division I poll, opens Region VI play on Friday at 7 p.m. against Colby (39-18).
Neosho County (31-24) plays Fort Scott (40-15) at 10 a.m., Seward County (31-26) plays Kansas City (34-21) at 1 p.m. and Garden City (28-25) plays Coffeyville (29-23) at 4.
The champion advances to the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., May 25-June 1.
“It’s going to be a grind,” Burroughs said. “We’ve had a pretty good season so far, but it’s not about what we’ve done, it’s about our next game. If we go out and make plays and execute and play the right way we’ll still have some baseball to play. Hopefully a lot of it.”
Cowley is led by 6-foot-5, 230-pound sophomore first baseman Mike Parker, who signed with Arkansas last week. Parker leads the Tigers with a .455 batting average, seven home runs, 16 doubles and 53 RBIs.
“We’ve talked about (the postseason) and we’re all excited for it. We’re ready,” Parker said. “This team has great chemistry, like a big family. You couldn’t ask for a better situation to be in.”
The Tigers have also been buoyed by two Division I transfers this season — redshirt freshman catcher Dylan Delso from Arizona State and freshman Matt Anderson from Illinois State.
Delso is second on Cowley in batting average (.399), home runs (6), doubles (15) and RBIs (52).
“(Delso) needed to play somewhere where he could get on the field and refine his skills,” Burroughs said. “I don’t want to say him leaving (Arizona State) has been good for us, because that’s not the right way to put it. He needed to be on the field, and this was the right spot.”
Delso has a tough decision to make after the season — he’s already qualified to play Division I and Arkansas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are all interested. Anderson is hitting .350 with 11 doubles and 46 RBIs.
Cowley’s built-in advantage, however, will always be Burroughs, who has won 15 Jayhawk East titles in 26 years and has led the Tigers to the NJCAA World Series six times, including back-to-back national championships in 1997 and 1998.
“(Burroughs) has so much experience, obviously, and so much in the postseason,” Parker said. “Just in general, he is who we look to and to see him excited that makes us excited, too. It lets us know we have a chance to do well.”