Prep Baseball Report

NJCAA Division I: Opening Weekend Recap

By: Andy Sroka & Josh Fields
JUCO Wire Staff

Last Friday, we kicked off the 2024 junior college baseball season, which featured multiple top-25 matchups throughout the weekend – and Prep Baseball scouts in attendance from coast to coast. The biggest games were played in the spots you would expect for this time of year: Las Vegas, Bradenton, Fla., and Weatherford, Texas.

Last week, prior to opening day, we published our Division I preseason top-25, which you can read about by clicking here. To view the entire Division I top-25 board, click here. As more teams begin their seasons in earnest, we'll generate Division II top-25 board and update them periodically as the season rolls forward.

For now, here's how the opening weekend's results shook out.


No. 1 Central Florida (0-3)

  • Central Florida dropped the first three of the season, including in a top-25 matchup with No. 20 Chipola to open their season. Offensively, infielder Kareh Valentin led the way for the Patriots, collecting six hits and two doubles on the weekend.

No. 2 Blinn (1-1)

  • The Buccaneers split with Temple, starting their season at 1-1; they continue their season with Friday against Baton Rouge for a four-game set.

No. 3 Wabash Valley (2-0)

  • The Warriors got off to a hot start this season, going on the road to sweep Dyersburg State on the weekend. The offense scored 16 runs across both games, with 10 of their 19 hits going for extra bases. Starting pitcher Jackson Soucie struck out six batters in 2.1 innings in the first start of his season, earning the win.

No. 6 Weatherford (1-1)

  • Weatherford split a two-game set with Northeast Texas to start their season. Starting pitcher Robert Fortenberry and reliever Tanner Wiggins had strong outings on the weekend, not allowing an earned run.

(Wiggins, 1/27/24)

(Fortenberry, 1/27/24)

No. 8 Salt Lake (3-1)

  • In another Top-25 matchup, Salt Lake took three of four from No. 21 South Mountain to kick off the season. The Bruins' stable of arms held the South Mountain offense to 13 runs across the four-game slate.

(Traton Steheli, 1/28/24)

No. 9 Walters State (2-0)

  • The Senators got off to a hot start, going 2-0 on the weekend. As an offense, they slashed .515/.616/.864 as a team, with infielder Kurtis Reid leading the way with five hits and seven RBIs.

No. 10 Northwest Florida State (1-2)

  • After putting up 20 runs in their season opener against No. 16 Florida Southwestern, Northwest Florida State dropped the next two games on the weekend, bringing their record to 1-2. Offensively, infielder Cade Sadler led the way with three home runs on the weekend. Freshman right-hander Mack Estrada also came away a winner from the weekend after his 2.2-inning start on the mound.

(Cade Sadler, 1/27/24)

(Mack Estrada, 1/28/24)

No. 11 New Mexico (3-0)

  • The bats were hot for New Mexico to start off the season, scoring at least 10 runs in each of their three games over the weekend. INF Erick Ballenilla and INF Brent Iredale led the way for the Thunderbirds on offense.

No. 12 Central Arizona (2-2)

  • Central Arizona comes away from the weekend with a 2-2 record with two Top-25 wins against No. 18 College of Southern Nevada and No. 15 San Jacinto. Offensively, the Vaqs are led by Jonathon Hernandez, who leads the team with six hits; on the mound, the Vaqs have pitched to a 3.44 ERA after the opening weekend.

(Ryan Spalliero, 1/28/24)

(Cooper Foster, 1/28/24)

No. 15 San Jacinto (2-2)

  • Another team that participated in the Manny Guerra Memorial Tournament, the Ravens returned from the weekend 2-2 with two Top-25 wins against No. 18 College of Southern Nevada and No. 12 Central Arizona. On the mound for the Ravens, a trio of arms stood out over the weekend: left-handers Brandon Arvidson and Ty Roman and right-hander Maddux Stivey.
(Brandon Arvidson, 1/28/24)

No. 16 Florida SouthWestern (1-2)

  • Florida SouthWestern started their season going 1-2, including a matchup against No. 10 Northwest Florida State, something that seems like a theme for Region 8, which is shaping up to be one of the most competitive regions in the nation once again.

No. 18 College of Southern Nevada (1-3)

  • College of Southern Nevada opened their season 1-3 after a tough slate of games at the Manny Guerra Memorial Tournament featuring multiple Top-25 teams. A couple of arms were able to stand out over the weekend: left-hander Naun Haro and FR right-hander Dylan Venturini.

(Naun Haro 1/27/24)

(Dylan Venturini 1/28/24)

No. 19 Gaston (3-0)

  • The Rhinos started their season off on a high note, going 3-0 on the weekend and scoring 10 or more runs in each of the three games. Gaston was exceptional on both sides of the ball, combining to slash .386/.571/.743 with 27 walks as a team while yielding only one earned run on the weekend.

No. 20 Chipola (2-2)

  • Chipola picked up a pair of quality wins over opening weekend with a 14-2 victory over No. 1 Central Florida and a 9-5 win over a quality Palm Beach State squad. Offensively, Bentley Willis led the charge for the Indians, hitting .600 with three doubles, one home run and nine runs scored in the four-game weekend.

No. 21 South Mountain (1-3)

  • South Mountain faced off against No. 8 Salt Lake in a four-game set, going 1-3 on the weekend. On the mound, a trio of arms stood out on the weekend: LHP Stephen Hernandez and RHPs David Galindo and Matthew Lighthall.

No. 23 State College of Florida (1-2)

  • The Manatees started their season off 1-2, including a win against No. 10 Northwest Florida and tough matchups against Gulf Coast State and Indian River State. A pair of southpaws stood out on the mound in Brandon Clarke, a JUCO Wire Top-150 Prospect, Brandon Clarke, and Palmer O’Beirne.
(Brandon Clarke 1/27/24)


+ Southern Idaho (3-1)
+ Santa Fe (3-0)
+ Wharton County (3-0)
+ Gulf Coast State (3-0)
+ Miami Dade (2-1)
+ Eastern Florida State (3-0-1)
+ Arizona Western (4-0)
+ Panola (3-0)
+ Pensacola State (2-0)
+ Angelina (2-0)
+ Tyler (2-1)
+ Hillsborough (2-1)
+ New Mexico Military (2-1)
+ Ranger (2-1)