Jason White- Staff Photojournalist
Head coach of the Fighting Artichokes Alex Cherney faces a challenging task repeating his team’s success from last season.
But Cherney believes the new roster is up to the task.
In 2018, the Artichokes reached the Junior College World Series Semifinal game but came up short.
“It was a lot of fun,” Cherney said. “The sophomores really came forward and led the team. The team we had and the sophomores that took control were just phenomenal people.”
The Artichokes started in May of 2018—the Region I playoffs, making it all the way to the semi-final of the Division II World Series before losing to Parkland College in Enid, Oklahoma.
This year’s Artichokes have a new look after losing last year’s sophomores and adding many new freshman players. The question is—how good this current team will be.
“I think we’ve got a chance to be pretty good. We’re gonna have opportunities to learn and grow and to get better. The physical ability is there to compete at a high level,” Cherney said.
With a long physically draining 55 game schedule that does not include scrimmages and exhibition games, repeating the same kind of success can be hard for young teams.
“They play the game because they want to, not because they need to,” Cherney said.
Two Artichokes from last season’s team, now Sophomores Justin Anderson and Sam Kalberer were asked about their experience playing and what led them to choose SCC.
“I like the winning ways. I like how Coach runs the program. I really like the atmosphere,” Anderson said.
Kalberer compared coach Cherney to his high school coach Mark Chander, who was a role model for him. Adding that coach Cherney ran the program similar to his former coach.
“Last year was an amazing experience. Getting to win a conference championship and play in Enid Oklahoma was a once in a lifetime opportunity. It was awesome seeing the team rally together and pick each other up towards the end of the season, Kalberer said.
With the question looming as to whether the new team can recreate the same success they had last year—they are not unfamiliar with being counted out.
“It was kind of cool to be that underdog team. To go in and take care of some business and show people what we have here. We got to showcase Arizona and the ballplayers we have here,” Kalberer said.
Despite some cautious expectations— this season, the Artichokes have jumped out to a good start with an 9-5 record.
“It’s going to be a super exciting season. The goal is the same as last year. We have a ton of talent returning and a ton of freshmen,” Anderson said.