LSUE's Willis to coach Team USA

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association, in conjunction with the NJCAA National Office, is pleased to announce that LSU Eunice’s Jeff Willis will coach an NJCAA All-Star team representing the United States at the 25th Honkbal Tournament in Haarlem, Netherlands this July.

Willis has been head baseball coach at LSU Eunice for eight seasons and has earned numerous coach of the year awards from the NJCAA and the American Baseball Coaches Association and lead the Bengals to two national titles.

“It is a tremendous honor to be selected to be the head coach of the National Team,” said Willis. “The recognition belongs to LSU Eunice and all the great players we have had come through here. Without LSU Eunice and the players I would not have this opportunity.”

The NJCAA/USA team will be coached by Willis and Marc Rardin of Iowa Western Community College. The team will consist of 24 players hailing from NJCAA member colleges.

“The best junior college baseball players from all divisions, across the whole country will be a part of the team,” said Willis. “With us competing against Cuba, Japan, Venezuela, and other teams that have represented their country in the Olympics and the World Baseball Classic, this should be a tremendous challenge.”

The Honkbal Tournament is one of the most prestigious international amateur baseball tournaments in the world. The event runs every other year and the 2010 tournament marks the 25th anniversary of the event. USA Baseball’s collegiate team won the 2008 tournament by defeating Cuba in the title game. Over 70,000 fans attended the 20 games back in 2008.

“We are really excited to have the NJCAA All-Star Team play in our tournament,” said Honkbal Tournament official Roderick Ball. “Of course we were very happy that Eric Campbell of USA Baseball recommended the NJCAA to us. We also sought advice from former MLB player and manager Davey Johnson, who was also very positive about the NJCAA.”

The 2010 Honkbal Tournament is slated for July 9-18 and will feature six teams from around the world, including the United States. Teams will play a single round robin and then advance to a semi-final round as well as fifth place and third place contests. Tournament officials have confirmed that national teams from Venezuela, Netherlands and Taiwan will be participating. The Netherlands team will feature 10-12 players that participated in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. The two remaining spots in the tournament field will be announced soon.

“Getting to represent our country and taking Team USA’s spot in this tournament is going to be challenging and an experience that everyone involved will never forget,” said Willis. “The players will get to see how they stack up against the very best international competition the world has to offer.”

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