Powerhouse Midland is back, seeking a fourth Connie Mack World Series championship

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Much has changed in the 717 days since Midland's team celebrated their last triumph in the Connie Mack World Series.

One thing that remains the same is the task at hand, and that’s winning again.

Midland will seek a fourth straight Series championship when play begins this week in Farmington, with pool play getting underway Friday at Ricketts Park, as well as the Farmington Sports Complex and Worley Park.

Coach Dave Evans brings in a healthy and well-stocked team for the Connie Mack World Series, more than a year since the squad was limited to local round-robin competitions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Midland will be headed by infielder Lauden Brooks. Named Greater Catholic League-Coed Division Player of the Year, Brooks is headed to the University of Kentucky later this fall. Josh Overbeek, a switch-hitting first baseman, was named Eastern Cincinnati Conference Player of the Year and is soon headed to the University of Pittsburgh.

More:Teams start to arrive in Farmington for Connie Mack World Series after being canceled in 2020

The Midland baseball team will also be represented by new ownership this time around. 

The team is no longer controlled by the Hayden family who sold the organization to St. Louis businessman Matt Shadow last winter. 

Shadow runs Bandit Baseball of St. Louis and his team will become the Midland Bandits after this season with the current Midland teams in Ohio retaining their names.

“It's a program that you know has great history,” Shadow said in a recent interview. “I look at it as the New York Yankees of youth baseball. You can't let something like that just leave. It's an opportunity that I think is amazing. I'm grateful to the Hayden family.”

Albuquerque Baseball Academy, led by coach Tim Campos (far left), is seen after winning their regional qualifying tournament in Cheyenne, Wyoming for this week's Connie Mack World Series.

The comparison to the Yankees is not out of line. In years past, Midland Baseball has represented itself in Farmington with some elite talent, including the likes of Ken Griffey, Jr. and Barry Larkin, both of whom were later inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Current Major League Baseball players who represented Midland in their amateur years include Eric Hosmer (San Diego Padres), Matt Harvey (Baltimore Orioles) and Andrew Benintendi (Kansas City Royals).

In addition to winning the championship over the Southern California Renegades in dramatic fashion in 2019, the team also won the tournament in 2017 and 2018. Coronavirus protocols prevented the series from taking place last year. Midland is aiming for their 17th overall Connie Mack World Series championship.

Lots of competition

Standing in their way are 11 other teams, including three from the state of New Mexico. 

Farmington will be represented by both the Sting and the Frackers. The Sting features nearly two dozen players from both Farmington and Piedra Vista High Schools while the Frackers feature a handful of players from high schools around the region.

More:Connie Mack World Series to start this week in Farmington

The Albuquerque Baseball Academy will make its World Series debut this week. Coached by Tim Campos and coming into the series with an unblemished record of 7 and 0, the ABA qualified for the Series by winning a qualifying tournament earlier this month in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

ABA Coach Tim Campos is excited to represent not only the City of Albuquerque, but the entire state of New Mexico, in the CMWS.

"It's been a goal of this team for a long time to be here and we're thrilled to be a part of it," Campos said prior to the team's official arrival to the Farmington Civic Center. "We have a very good team and we're excited to be able to be in front of a lot of fans."

So Cal Renegades Coach Si Pettrow, seen in this 2018 file photo speaking with the umpires during Game 1 of the Connie Mack World Series at Ricketts Park in Farmington, returns to coach the team in the 2021 tournament.

The SoCal Renegades are back as well, looking for redemption after losing the championship in 2019.

Coached by Si Pettrow, the Renegades come into the tournament with a record of 26 and 2. They received an automatic bid into the Connie Mack World Series and will be led on the field by infielder George Cooper, a three-year starter for the nationally ranked Harvard Westlake Wolverines baseball team, where he led all hitters this past season with a .402 batting average. 

Fans who wish to enjoy the games from home can find them at a variety of locations.

Connie Mack World Series games will be streamed at www.liveplaysports.tv or by visiting the Connie Mack World Series page at www.cmws.org. Semifinal and championship games will be broadcast live on New Mexico CW MY50 TV. Games can also be heard on radio at KSJE, 90.9 FM in Farmington, 103.3 FM in Durango and streaming live at www.KSJE.com.

Contact sports writer Steve Bortstein at sbortstein@gannett.com or by calling (505) 635-2680.