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Darton baseball earns first ever national ranking

First-year Darton College baseball coach Scot Hemmings took over the program this season and has now led the Cavs to one of their best starts in school history. Darton is not only 25-8 overall and 12-1 in Region XVII, but Wednesday Hemmings and his Cavs found out they earned the program’s first Top 25 NJCAA ranking at No. 12. (Herald file photo)

First-year Darton College baseball coach Scot Hemmings took over the program this season and has now led the Cavs to one of their best starts in school history. Darton is not only 25-8 overall and 12-1 in Region XVII, but Wednesday Hemmings and his Cavs found out they earned the program’s first Top 25 NJCAA ranking at No. 12. (Herald file photo)

ALBANY — It’s good to be a Darton College baseball player these days.

The Cavaliers were ranked No. 12 nationally in a poll released by the NJCAA on Wednesday, marking the first Top 25 ranking in the program’s history — and it comes under first-year head coach Scot Hemmings.

“The guys have bought into a system and are executing it at a high rate of effectiveness,” Hemmings said after learning of the honor. “And the ranking is good for the program, no doubt about that. We’re working (on bringing in) some big recruits — this should help sway them, too.”

Former coach Glenn Eames, who started the program nearly two decades ago but retired before this season — although he’s still actively involved in helping Hemmings in whatever capacity he can — said Wednesday he was “so proud” of the Cavs’ success.

“We had a couple of seasons (during my tenure) where we won a bunch of games in a row and thought we may have a chance to crack the rankings, but we just never did,” Eames told The Herald. “But to hear that they’ve finally done it ... it’s a big milestone. I’m so proud of them.”

The Cavs are hot, and the NJCAA knows it. They’ve won 17 of their last 19 games, positioning themselves at the top of Region XVII. They’re 25-8 overall — the ninth best in the NJCAA — and they’re 12-1 in conference play with their only loss coming to West Georgia Tech, a team Darton got revenge on in a sweep last week.

“We’ve come a long way,” former Lee County star and ace pitcher Matt Aldrich said. “We put Darton’s name back on the map.”

Along with its current ranking, the Darton program can also boast of Aldrich’s NJCAA-leading 81 strikeouts, and outfielder Kevin Manos’ NJCAA-leading 47 RBI.

“I think they’re excited about the direction we’re headed, but not satisfied with where we’re at,” Hemmings said. “We now have to focus on not forgetting how we got here — through hard work, playing hard and executing our game plan.”

The Cavs will next host Andrew at 6 p.m. on Friday, and again in a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 1 p.m.