U.T. Tyler Champions But Left Out Of Playoffs - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/29/05-Tyler

U.T. Tyler Champions But Left Out Of Playoffs

They are the champions of the American Southwest Conference's East division. The U.T. Tyler Patriots have won 20 of 22, and brought home 30 victories in just their second season.

Unfortunately, that's about as good as the season is going to get.

"We knew coming in the only championship we could win was conference," outfielder Philip Grau explains, "and knowing we can't go to the playoffs this year, that was our main goal, and what we got accomplished."

As a second-year program, the Patriots are ineligible for the playoffs. Even though they are conference champs, have the best winning percentage, and are 11-4 against the conference's playoff teams, it doesn't matter, they are not eligible to defend their crown in the postseason.

"After seeing the teams we play," third baseman Kevin Noles says, "the top five teams from our conference are getting to go off and play and we're having to sit back and watch everybody do it. It's a tough feeling."

It's been a huge jump in their second season. A year ago, before their stadium was completed, they practiced at 9 different locations and played their home games a half hour away across town at Faulkner Park. That experience made them enjoy the comforts of their brand new ball park.

"It was tough mentally on the kids," head coach James Vilade says, "but our kids never made any excuse last year, and the nice thing is we returned everybody from last year's team except one senior, and he's coaching, so everybody got to taste the championship."

There will be rings and t-shirts and celebrations for the Patriots, everything a champion deserves.

Except of course, a playoff spot.

Reid Kerr (rkerr@kltv.com) reporting.

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