Junior Colleges

Gulf Coast roundup: Melendrez, Lee, Mills-Derouen nab MACJC weekly awards


No. 3 Mississippi Gulf Coast swept the MACJC weekly awards for the second time this season, with center fielder Hannah Melendrez winning Player of the Week and Kaitlin Lee winning her sixth Pitcher of the Week award of the season.

Hannah Melendrez blasted three home runs while going 5-for-8. She added a double, driving in seven runs in four games.

The sophomore from DeSoto Central slugged 1.875 and had a 2.625 OPS. She hit two homers and drove in three runs in a 4-2 win over Co-Lin, then hit another dinger in the second game, a 16-4 victory, to extend her home run streak to three games.

Melendrez is riding an eight-game hitting streak, raising her batting average to .432.

Lee has won half of the state's weekly awards this season, and has twice won NJCAA Division II Pitcher of the Week.

The sophomore right-hander from Harrison Central didn't allow an earned run in posting a 2-0 record with a save. She entered with two on and no outs in the sixth inning against Co-Lin and got a double play and pop up on the way to a save.

Lee earned the win in the second game, then opened the MACJC first-round playoff series with a two-hitter against East Mississippi.

The No. 3 Lady Bulldogs (43-3) play Friday in the opening game of the MACJC Tournament in Ellisville. They face No. 7 Itawamba (39-8) at 4 p.m.

Host Jones (39-6), the fifth-ranked team in the country, plays East Central (42-7) in the second game Friday.

No-hitter earns Mills-Derouen state award: Mississippi Gulf Coast's Dylan Mills-Derouen was honored for his no-hit performance by being named MACJC Pitcher of the Week.

Mills-Derouen struck out eight batters against No. 15 East Central on April 19, winning 3-0 and closing out an important doubleheader sweep in the conference race.

The Biloxi left-hander lowered his ERA to 2.88 with the performance, improving his record to 3-3. He has 45 strikeouts in 50 innings.

Mills-Derouen is the second Bulldog to win state honors this season. Catcher/designated hitter Brian Lane has twice won Player of the Week and went on to win one NJCAA Division II Player of the Week award.

Mills-Derouen is now nominated for the national award.

MGCCC will hold spring scrimmage Wednesday: Mississippi Gulf Coast will complete its spring football drills Wednesday with a situational scrimmage at A.L. May Memorial Stadium.

The practice will start at 3 p.m. with some position drills and move into offense vs. defense work. The Bulldogs will have a crew of referees on hand, as well.

"It's been a good spring," Gulf Coast coach Chad Huff said. "We've gone a good job coming out each and every day and competing and getting a little better."

Gulf Coast finished last year, Huff's second in charge after 10 seasons as offensive coordinator, in the MACJC championship game. The Bulldogs' 8-3 mark earned them a No. 8 ranking, extending a streak of appearances in the NJCAA poll over a decade.

Gulf Coast has been ranked in the top 20 for 141 straight weeks, one of only two schools who can claim a similar current streak. The Bulldogs have compiled a 95-23 record (.805) during that span, having spent 114 weeks in the top 10 since September 2005.

Community college football teams face unique challenges during spring drills each season. With only roughly half a roster on hand thanks to graduation, the Bulldogs have been able to stay healthy to run full sets of drills.

"We've been able to find out who can contribute and help next year," Huff said. "Guys who we're counting on that we know about and played last year are getting better, both side of the ball."

Nail-biter No. 9: MGCCC wins another region crown: No. 2 Mississippi Gulf Coast won its ninth straight NJCAA Region 23 championship Tuesday in Senatobia, but it's never been a tighter squeeze.

The Bulldogs saw a six-shot first-round lead over Meridian evaporate at Back Acres Country Club, but were two shots better on the sudden-death playoff hole to claim the title.

"Nine in a row," Gulf Coast coach Tommy Snell said. "It's a pretty cool feeling, but nothing's ever easy."

Gulf Coast matched its first-round score of 11-over, with Meridian shooting 5-over on the second day to make up the ground.

The teams divided into two groups of five to play hole No. 1. Gulf Coast had played it at 1-under the first time, but Colin Troxler, Phillip Hickam and Grant Motter were on the green in two shots the second time around.

"We hit on the green and knew one of us would make eagle putt, and it just happened to be me," said Troxler, who made an 8-footer. "We got out of there 4-under and we felt confident after that."

Hickam and Motter birdied it, giving Gulf Coast the advantage after two Meridian birdies.

"We were going to nationals," Motter said. "We wanted to get Coach Snell his ninth in a row. We were going, no matter what. We all three went out and did what we needed to do."

When George Kawell and Jonathon Newman made par in the second group, Meridian managed only two pars and a bogey, and the trip to Indiana was clinched.

Gulf Coast advances to the NJCAA Division II Tournament in Plymouth, Ind., to be played May 24-27. The Bulldogs have finished third the last two trips to the national tournament.

In the individual standings, Motter finished in a tie for second, two shots off Copiah-Lincoln's Philip Heine who shot even-par. Troxler also made the All-Region Team, finishing in fifth at 3-over.

Hickam shot 7-over and was eighth, with Newman in an 11th-place tie at 10-over. Kawell was 13th three shots further back.

Gulf Coast will get another month of work on the range and on the course to get ready for Plymouth. Their methods and routines paid off Tuesday.

"That's why we do the things we do," Snell said. "That's why we worked on chipping last night until dark. To beat a good team like Meridian, you have to do that. They have four individuals who qualified, so they'll go as a team, and that's cool. I'm happy for them."