By JOhn Talty/The Clarion-Ledger
JACKSON,— Jim Page’s voice is hoarse from all of the congratulatory phone calls he’s gotten since Saturday. He’d estimate the amount in the thousands, coming everywhere from North Carolina to Texas.
The majority of them have told Page one thing: You deserve this.
Page has finally guided his Millsaps program to the Division III Baseball Championship after 25 years at the helm. He had achieved many things during those 25 years — six conference Coach of the Year awards and more than 600 career wins stand out — but never a trip to the College World Series.
He had sure gotten close in the past. In 2006 and 2009 it looked like Millsaps would be headed to the championship only to see some break go the other team’s way in the South Regional final.
It even looked like it might go that way Saturday after the Majors coughed up a late lead that had even Page thinking to himself, “Are you kidding me? Is this really going to happen again?”
But after a stunning 7-6 win over Salisbury on Saturday, featuring a walk-off RBI single by freshman Isaac Gross, Page and his Millsaps Majors (38-12) are headed to Appleton, Wis.
The team will have its first game Friday against Southern Maine (42-8).
“I can tell it is big for our school,” Page said. “The players are excited. What has been mind-boggling is the number of former players and coaching peers around the country that have been calling.”
Since then it has been a whirlwind affair for Page and his guys. After leaving the regional game, the team’s bus broke down in Grenada and didn’t make it back until 3 a.m. Next were phone calls from the NCAA, putting together the plans for Appleton and getting on a bus headed north.
Page said he hadn’t slept much since Saturday, but that there was plenty of time to catch up on sleep once it was all over. It is something that he has stressed to his players: Make sure you enjoy this moment.
He plans on using the same rotation he has used all year because it has gotten him this far. He’ll also make sure to stress to his team to avoid being starstruck and just keep doing what has worked.
“I’m trying not to think about it too much,” he said. “It might take a couple of days to sink in. I’m constantly talking about the process and the moment.
“You can’t be too worried about the score because then you don’t enjoy the game. I’m trying to shut them down to live day-by-day and pitch-by-pitch and do what we’ve been doing.”
Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com