BaseballNORMAL, Ill. – Phoenix College’s reign as champions of NJCAA Division II Softball came to an end in the midst of brisk conditions at the hands of a team from this local area – the Hawks of Heartland Community College, a school that has only had athletics for two years.

But after just over an hour after it began, in a game played in 30 mile-per hour winds, Heartland had won its first NJCAA Division Championship, dethroning the current five-time champion Bears, 4-1.

Pitcher Hannah Dow’s first inning single with two on scored center fielder Lizzie Andrews, giving HCC (50-8) a fast 1-0 lead. Aggressive defensive fielding by the Hawks kept Phoenix College scoreless for six straight innings.

The winds had baserunners for Phoenix College (57-10) wearing jackets to keep out the cold.

Phoenix BearsIn the bottom of the seventh inning, the Bears scored their lone run, with two out. Catcher Lacy Goodman led off with a single. After shortstop Ashlie Rosenberg and right fielder Alyssa Goldsmith struck out and hit into an out, respectfully, giving Phoenix College a last chance to extend their season, first baseman Dana Goguen reached first on an error by HCC center fielder Andrews. Goodman scored when Goguen advanced to second.

Dow was the winning pitcher for HCC. Brianna Robles took the loss for Phoenix College.

“It was just insane (to be playing) with 30 miles-per-hour winds,” Phoenix College head coach Heinz Mueller said. “(The conditions) took our home run ball away from us. I mean, it really did.

“We’re a home run-hitting team,” Mueller said, pointing to the Bears’ 120 round-trip shots his team has had this season.

NJCAA National Championships“You have to give (Heartland) credit,” Mueller said. “They were hot, they were on (their game). He said had the game been played at the originally-scheduled 2p.m (Pacific) on Friday, even if Heartland had beat them then, the Bears would not have had to play as many games in one day as they did Saturday.

“When they cancelled the game on Friday, we knew that if we lost that game that there would be a long road to haul,” Mueller said.

Mueller said his comments about the cancellations and game stacking should not be thought of as complaining about losing a title his team has held for five years running.

“I don’t want to take anything away from (Heartland),” Mueller said. “But you had to beat us to take us away from that. We weren’t going to lay down. We’ve got a lot of pride. We’ve got a lot of character.”

NJCAAA near day-long rain Friday caused Phoenix College (57-10) to have to play five games on Saturday, starting the day with a win over Kansas’ Johnson County Community College, but then dropping the day’s second game to the Hawks, 13-1. The Bears recovered after that, with Mueller’s Bears blanking Kansas-based Cowley Community College, 5-0, and defeating Kankakee Community College, 4-1.

All-Tournament Team Members: Outfielder Melissa Goldsmith was named to the All-Tournament Team by organizers at the conclusion of the event.

Bears infielder Ashlie Rosenberg earned recognition by tournament organizers, too, being named the tournament’s designated player, while Goodwin was named the tourney’s Best Offensive Player.