By Steve Robinson | May 19, 2006 - 6:20 am
Posted in Category: Kalamazoo Gazette, NJCAA Softball

BaseballNORMAL, Ill. – Fast defense by Kankakee Community College and quiet offense by Kalamazoo Valley Community College were a bad mix for the Cougars, as their season ended Friday in a six-inning 9-0 loss to KCC at the NCJAA National Championship tournament here.
As the team quietly gathered their equipment for one last time this season, coach Terry Reynolds reflected on a season that ended with a 44-14 record.

“At the start of the season, we knew we were going to be here (at the National Championship),” Reynolds said. “We knew that we had a lot of good defensive players and our pitching was exceptional.

“We planned on being here,” Reynolds said. He continued that that wasn’t going to be an issue despite a head coaching change that put Reynolds at the helm of this Cougars squad about one-third into the season.

“The girls are absolutely remarkable,” Reynolds said. “They have a lot of integrity (and) intestinal fortitude…All those adjectives that describe a winning team.

NJCAA 2006“They are champions,” Reynolds said quietly. “You can’t take regional and conference championships away from them. They are champions.”

But KCC (49-18) tried to do just that by showing an aggressive offense from the opening pitch, getting one run from first baseman Amber Nibling, who singled and scored on a fielder’s choice hit by right fielder Maggie Swanson. That gave KCC the lead at 1-0.

KCC scored two more runs in the third inning and one more in the fourth, going up 4-0, while its defense kept KVCC bats silent.

Winning pitcher Jessie Alesi fanned three KVCC batters, walking one. When she was not responsible for all the defense her team put in front of the Cougars.

When they did hit the ball, KVCC hitters couldn’t get past the short-to-first duo of Darah Nelson and Nibling. Nelson and Nibling were responsible for four outs against the Cougars.

NJCAA SoftballKVCC changed pitchers in the fifth inning, sidelining losing pitcher Ashleigh Colpetsir after 4 2/3 innings in favor of Melissa Miller.

But KCC batters, starting with a double by Cavaliers left fielder Hannah Keller, shelled Miller for four hits and two walks during a five-run sixth inning.

“We couldn’t touch (Alesi),” Reynolds said. “She pitched very well against us. It was difficult to overcome mistakes we made in the outfield, but the name of the game is hitting, and we’ve been a hitting team all year.

“We take pride in our hitting,” Reynolds said. “We take pride in ourselves. It just didn’t happen for us today.”

By Steve Robinson | May 18, 2006 - 6:29 am
Posted in Category: Kalamazoo Gazette, NJCAA Softball

BaseballNORMAL, Ill. – Two out of three wins will keep Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Softball team in the NCAA Division II National Championships, held at Champion Fields in this college town 130 miles south of Chicago, for a second day, despite dropping the day’s middle game to a team from central Illinois.
KVCC won the opening round of the three-day event by beating Oklahoma-based Murray State College, 8-0, in five innings.

By early afternoon, it looked like KVCC had met their equal when Parkland College, from nearby Champaign, Ill., beat head coach Terry Reynolds’ troops, 3-1 in the mid-day affair. But the Cougars bounced back for the last game of the day, giving them a second day here Saturday, by beating Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Kirkwood Community College, 6-1.

That single loss amid the three games they played Thursday gets the Cougars a 12:30p.m. game time Friday with Kankakee Community College.

Against Kirkwood CC: Two home runs by first baseman Andrea Groff contributed to the Cougars staying alive in this tournament for a second day. The sophomore from Vicksburg belted two home runs, giving KVCC a head start toward its 6-1 win over Kirkwood Community College late Thursday afternoon.

The victory saved KVCC from elimination from the three-day tournament, with the Cougars finishing the day with a 2-1 mark, increasing their overall record to 44-13.

Groff’s first shot came in the bottom of the second inning, with Kirkwood up, 1-0. Designated Player Taylor Atkins tripled and scored on a single and error, putting KVCC up 2-1.

NJCAA 2006Groff’s second home run in the third inning was not the only one that frame, as center fielder Julia Arnold slammed a ball over the center field wall to start the inning, making the score 3-1. Groff’s second homer, another one over the center field fence, gave KVCC a 4-1 lead after three innings.

“It’s not uncommon for her to (hit more than one home run in a game),” Reynolds said of Groff. ”It depends on what day and (opponent) pitching and how she feels. It can happen often.”

KVCC scored two more in the fourth inning, as right fielder Kristen Schwandler doubled to lead off the inning. Arnold doubled her home and then scored herself after stealing third and scoring on a Groff single.

Winning pitcher Nicole Winger had 9 strikeouts and walked four en route to victory. The loss went to Breanna Milnes, who relieved Lauren Stolte.

Reynolds said the win over Kirkwood was a performance that was “a lot better” than what he witnessed against Parkland earlier in the day.

“Our bats came back, our long ball came back, we played a little better defense,” Reynolds said. “We made some good decisions on the bases. We were a little more aggressive. We had the opportunity to be aggressive. We’re a very aggressive team, and we need to stay that way to continue in the tournament.

“I was a little disappointed with the game against Parkland because I thought we should have done better with our bats,” Reynolds said. “We hope to get another crack at Parkland.

“We hope to continue,” Reynolds said. “We’ll be here awhile.”

NJCAA SoftballEarly Shut-Out Win: KVCC began the day with a shut-out win in five innings over Murray State College, 8-0. Groff hit a three-run homer in the first inning to get things started. KVCC added three more in the second inning, courtesy of a home run from Brittany Cox with two Cougars on base.

Cox hit the homer after shortstop Brandy Wark’s single and second baseman Leah Knight’s getting to second on an extra base error.

Designated player Taylor Atkins from first in the third inning, aided by left fielder Amy Bass’ hitting into a double play and a Wark single.

“We’re known for hitting the power ball and that’s what we started (the day) with,” Reynolds said. “We then got some more runs in the middle innings, again with the power ball.”

Against Parkland College: But the middle game of the day would put at least an immediate halt to KVCC thinking title game at this tournament. KVCC dropped a 3-1 decision to Parkland College, despite scoring first in the contest.

That first score came in the top of the third inning, as Cox singled, and then advanced to second on a sacrifice fly by right fielder Sarah Coburn. Right fielder Julia Arnold’s single was the RBI Coburn needed to cross home plate, giving KVCC a 1-0 lead.

Parkland returned fire, scoring two runs in their half of the fourth inning, beginning with first baseman Valerie Rhodes’ single. That was followed by back-to-back sacrifice flies by second baseman Amber Darnall and catcher Brooke Freeman, getting Rhodes around the bases, crossing the plate on a single by designated player Julie Kiska, giving Parkland a 2-1 lead.

Following a scoreless fifth inning, Freeman belted a two-out homerun for what would be the final score.