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Mon, June 17

Mingus baseball stars sign with Arizona JUCOs

Mingus senior baseball stars Chris Mathe and Justin Tanner signed with Cochise College and Tanner to Scottsdale Community College respectively. VVN/James Kelley

Mingus senior baseball stars Chris Mathe and Justin Tanner signed with Cochise College and Tanner to Scottsdale Community College respectively. VVN/James Kelley

Long time friends Chris Mathe and Justin Tanner may be going to different schools but they’re both staying in state for college.

The Mingus Union senior baseball stars each signed with Arizona schools. Mathe is headed to Cochise College and Tanner to Scottsdale Community College.

“It’s amazing,” Mingus head coach Erick Quesada said. “They’re two great kids, they’ve been busting their butt for the past four years in the program and they’re very special ball players and it’s very nice to see it come to fruition and them getting opportunities to play at the next level, I knew that they could and it’s so nice to actually see them living out their dream of playing college baseball.”

Mathe will play in the middle infield for Cochise.

“I feel pretty proud and just honored,” Mathe said.

Turner will most likely be pitching for Scottsdale.

“It’s very exciting, I’m really excited to go,” Tuner said.

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Mingus senior Chris Mathe signed with Cochise College baseball. VVN/James Kelley

Cochise College is located in Douglas in Southern Arizona. Cochise County is nicknamed the “Land of Legends” and features Tombstone, Ariz. and the current army installation Fort Huachuca.

CC has an enrollment of about 11,500 students with an average class size of 12. On the diamond this season the Apaches went 42-15 and won the Arizona Community College Athletic Association, going 26-12.

“I liked their coaches, the whole coaching staff, the team, they all got along together, like very well and they just play a good game of baseball and that college I just really liked,” Mathe said.

He plans to major in fire science.

“I’ve always wanted to be a fire fighter,” Mathe said.

Scottsdale Community College has an enrollment of about 10,000. In 2016, SmartAsset named SCC the fourth Best Community College in the country.

The Fighting Artichokes finished eighth in the 14-team ACCAC, going 28-27 overall and 18-20 in conference play. SCC head coach Alex Cherney just finished his 14th season at the helm.

“The coach was really nice, he really wants me to succeed and he seemed like he really wanted me on the team as well and that kinda sold it for me,” Turner said. “Also it’s a smaller school, which I was looking for and it’s a really nice area.”

Turner plans to major in electronic engineering.

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Mingus senior Justin Turner signed with Scottsdale Community College baseball. VVN/James Kelley

Mathe said being able to stay in state for college was very cool.

“I never want to leave Arizona really and it’s just a beautiful state and I want to be close to my family,” Mathe said.

The ACCAC features schools from Yuma in the west to Thatcher in the east and colleges in southern and northern Arizona. Yavapai College baseball plays in Prescott so both the Marauders will be able to play games nearby.

“It’s actually really nice because I get to be close to my family and maybe some of my family will be able to come see my games,” Turner said. “That’s really nice, that means a lot to me as well.”

The ACCAC has produced 10 national champions and hundreds of MLB draft picks.

Quesada played in the conference at Chandler-Gilbert Community College before moving on to Western Oregon University.

“It’s really good competition, you’ll be playing guys from all across the country and playing in a very good Arizona league plain and simple,” Quesada said. “So they’ll be playing top tier guys and they have a really good opportunity to continue their education after their respective junior colleges and go to a university or play professional baseball.”

Quesada said the duo have been monumental to the program and he’s thankful he got to coach them.

“They’re going to represent the Verde Valley in the best way possible,” Quesada said. “They’re going to represent Mingus and what our program represents in the best way. It’s easy to put my name on kids like these kind of guys because I know they’ll go about things the right way and do what they need to do to be very successful at the next level.”

Turner and Mathe won’t be teammates anymore but the friends got to sign together and will play in the same league together.

“I’m really happy I got to be signing with one of my great friends,” Turner said. “We’ve been together for, uh, since third grade I believe, been on the same team since like third grade, so it’s pretty awesome.”

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