No human being of course can predict the future.
But the odds, the chances are pretty darn good that the Marietta College baseball team will be in Grand Chute (near Appleton), Wis., again this time next year, playing for a sixth NCAA Division III championship at Fox Cities Stadium.
It doesn't take a petroleum engineer to deduce this.
After all, the top-ranked 2011 Pioneers who, after being beat in Tuesday's first game 15-4 by Chapman, bounced back to drill the Panthers, 18-5, in a winner-take-all second game to clinch their record-setting fifth national crown - graduate only four quality senior players - right-handed pitcher Mark Williams, first baseman Casey Levens, outfielder Britt Meador, and center fielder and Ohio Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player John Snyder.
Everybody else, including All-America pitching aces' Brian Gasser and Austin Blaski, is expected back. Plus, there's bound to be some good ones coming in.
Now, if - and naturally it's a big if - Marietta does return to the World Series in the late spring of 2012, it will be seeking an unprecedented second consecutive title. In their long and storied history on the diamond, no Pioneer baseball squad has ever repeated as WS champs.
It would be something to shoot for - an added incentive, if you will.
Don Schaly-coached MC won it all for the first time in 1981 and finished third at the main event the following year. After claiming the crown in 1983, it was runner-up in both 1984 and 1985.
In 1986, the Pioneers returned to the winner's platform, and then didn't even advance to the WS the following year.
More recently, after a 20-year absence, Marietta claimed No. 4 - and first outside of Pioneer Park (now Don Schaly Stadium) - under the guidance of Brian Brewer in 2006. Then, the following year, minus pitching standouts' Mike DeMark (graduation) and Mike Eisenberg (Cleveland Indians' signee), the Pioneers earned another trip to the Dairyland State, only to go two-and-out, good for a seventh-place finish in a field of eight.
Right now, the Pioneers are celebrating and savoring the moment, like they should. And, they're not even thinking about next year. That can wait.
But y'know, time really does fly, like a supersonic jet breaking the sound barrier.
The Etta Express is expected to be the 2012 preseason No. 1 pick in the national polls in late December-early January. That's almost a no-brainer. And, then before you know it, it's February, a spring trip down south and "Play ball" - two of the most popular words in the English language at Marietta College.
Deja Vu all over again?
You can almost count on it.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org