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Kirkwood headed to NJCAA World Series, sophomores decision to return pays off

Updated: May. 22, 2021 at 11:52 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Kirkwood is headed to the NJCAA Division II Baseball World Series for the second time in four years after defeating Miles Community College 9-1 on Saturday to claim the North Plains District Championship.

It’s a moment the Eagles have waited for for 14 months. Last year, the team was in Florida for a tournament when the news broke that the season was over because of the pandemic.

Many players, who were sophomores at the time, faced a decision of whether to come back for a third year at Kirkwood or move on to the next level. Some players did move on, including pitcher Jackson Bennett to Michigan State. However, there were some, like former Beckman prep Joel Vaske, who decided to come back for another year, even though they had opportunities elsewhere.

“I felt nervous because I had good teams calling and stuff like that,” said Vaske. “So having a third year coming back, I was confident in it and I knew I could compete.”

“I was supposed to leave,” said sophomore pitcher Luke Llewellyn. “I was supposed to go to Akron, Ohio. You don’t go into college thinking you’re going to spend three years at a place, but I didn’t think I was going to love Kirkwood so much.”

The World Series will be from May 29 - June 5 in Enid, Oklahoma.

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