NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — Chris Razo doesn’t hesitate when he talks about how good is baseball team is.

“I will never coach a team as talented as this one, ever,” said Razo. “This year would have been a failure if we did not get back to the World Series.”

Chillicothe native Chris Razo has quite a team at Heartland Community College. The Hawks are the No. 1 seed in the Div. II National Junior College Athletic Association World Series after a 53-5 regular season that included a 24-game winning streak.

In his third season coaching the Hawks, he’s on cusp of winning a national championship.

” We do have a chip on our shoulder because everyone of these guys, if they were good enough to go Division 1, they’d be D1,” Razo said.

He knows all about playing baseball with a chip on his shoulder. Razo wasn’t highly recruited out of IVC High School but Heartland wanted him.

So he went to HCC for two years before Illinois State offered him a scholarship. He became an all-conference pitcher for the Redbirds before being drafted by Milwaukee and spending three yeas in the Brewers organization.

After his playing days were over, he tried selling real estate for year. Didn’t like it.

Razo got back into baseball as Heartland’s pitching coach and now is in his third year as the Hawks head coach. He admits building a national caliber baseball program has come faster than he thought.

Heartland is at the JUCO World Series for a second straight year. The Hawks took sixth in 2022.

That helps open the door in recruiting. And his pro career doesn’t hurt either.

“He and all the coaches have a ton of contacts to get us where we need to go. It helps us and the rest of the team,” said HCC sophomore Daniel Mosele, a U-High grad. “Look at his resume. All the coach’s resumes. They can get you somewhere.”

Razo knows many players come to junior college to become draft eligible. But he also know if those players are patient, they may increase their draft stock by getting signed by four-year schools.

“When I tell them the process works, it’s a lot easier for me to say the process works because it worked for me. I was here, then to a four year (school), then the draft,” Razo said. “For the most part it’s ‘I’m picking JUCO because I want to play right away, I want to win games and I truly believe they can develop into something special.”

Now he hopes the process wins him a national title. The 10-team Div. II World Series starts Saturday in Enid, Oklahoma.

As the No. 1 seed, Heartland has a first-round bye.