Natural State Collegiate League playoffs begin in Hot Springs

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Cooper McClure (left) and Alex Galvan play for the Bathers in the Natural State Collegiate League at Hot Springs.


HOT SPRINGS, Ar. — It’s playoff time in the Natural State Collegiate League at Majestic Park.

The first two games Friday at Babe Ruth Field resulted in two thrillers. The Bootleggers rallied in the opener to edge the Arlingtons, 3-2. Third-seeded Blues topped the Bathers in eight innings, 4-3.

The NSCL features six Hot Springs teams and players from six states, including nearly every college in Arkansas. Several players from the Texarkana region are participating, including Southern Illinois University recruit Cooper McClure of Atlanta, Texas. McClure and former Pleasant Grove star Alex Galvan, who is now playing at Henderson State.

“I’m transferring to Three Rivers Junior College in Popular Bluff, Mo., said McClure, who contributed two singles and one RBI that sent the game into extra innings Friday night against the Blues. “I got red-shirted last year, and I didn’t play in the fall or spring. I didn’t want to get stuck in a bad situation at SIU.”

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McClure shines in Natural State Collegiate League

McClure has started all summer for the Bathers at shortstop or second. He expects to play somewhere in the Three Rivers infield.

“This league is really nice, and Majestic is really nice,” said McClure, who is hitting .300 after his two hits against the Blues. There’s a lot of talent in this league, especially pitchers.”

Playing football was another choice McClure had after leaving Atlanta in 2022.

“I do miss football,” he said. “I had a few colleges talk to my dad (former Atlanta football coach Matt McClure) about me playing football. Dad said I could punt if nothing else. I averaged around 48 yards my senior year.

Galvan started in left field, walking once and contributing a double.

Saturday’s action begins at 9 a.m. with the Bathers and Arlingtons clashing. The regular season champion Jockeys face the Bootleggers at 11:30 a.m., with runnerup Gamblers playing the Blues at 2 p.m.