The King College teams of the 1980’s had made a mark in college baseball finishing strong perennially throughout the decade while being recognized as one of the strongest NAIA programs in all of East Tennessee. But none made the impact for King College than the 1987 squad that won the college its first national championship in school history that year.
1987 King Tornado Baseball
Head Coach Jerry Opp
The Tornado of 1987 entered the year with an NAIA national preseason ranking of 17th overall. King started the year strong by going a perfect 7-0 in the Cocoa Beach Tournament, including a win by forfeit over Boston University who submitted after the Navy and Scarlet had a 22-run lead at the time. Their successes continued throughout the course of the season as they steadily progressed up the rankings, peaking at No. 9 in the country, the highest ranking of any King baseball team.
After finishing the regular season 25-6 (.806), the Tornado earned runner-up honors at the state tournament before being upset in the championship game by David Lipscomb.
The magical season did not end there. King received a bid to the National Christian College Athletic Tournament and entered the tournament with a No. 10 national ranking. Continuing their winning ways, King advanced to the finals and on May 2, 1987 won the college’s first-ever national championship in a 3-2 (F/9) victory over former Major League pitcher Todd Worrell and Biola University (Calif.). The Tornado ended the season with a 32-8 (.800) overall record and improved to ninth in the country in the NAIA rankings.
Head Coach Jerry Opp on the 1987 team…
“I am just so incredibly proud of those guys. We were a team predicated on pitching a defense, but we were truly an offensive juggernaut. You had to see them to really appreciate their play but that season and that team was incredibly special to me and King College.”
Dr. Errol Rohr on the 1987 team…
“There were fabulous! They possessed such an enthusiasm and confidence in their play and a special energy while at bat. They were all true baseball guys, great athletes, and some very good students. They were truly fun to be around and provided some great memories.”