BaseballNORMAL, Ill. – With Copiah Lincoln Community College’s Softball team making their second trip in three years to the NJCAA Division II Tournament here, beginning Thursday, opponents and fans not familiar with the Lady Wolves’ style of play could use a primer on the type of team they’ll be seeing.

Co-Lin Head Coach Allen Kent describes it as “small ball” – that is, his team, coming into this tourney with a 33-8 overall record, including a 14-4 road record, usually wins games by no more than one or two runs.

There were some exceptions to that, however, early on in the season. Among them, an 11-0 win at Holmes and 6-0 win over East Central in February. After that, Co-Lin seemed to settle in for close scoring games.

“We’ve got a good combination of really good pitching and been playing strong defense behind our pitchers,” Kent said, referring to how defense has contributed to their success during the regular season and at State Finals, all of which led up to this year’s NJCAA appearance.

The Lady Wolves have a first-round bye. Their first game, scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at Champion Fields here, will be against either Delaware Tech or Maryland-based Community College of Baltimore County/Catonsville.

Whichever team faces Co-Lin, they need to know the Lady Wolves are coming in already on a 12-game winning streak, and having won 19 of their last 21 games.

Copiah-Lincoln Community College“We’ve done well all year but we really finished strong,” Kent said about the current streak.

With numbers like .603, .598, and .475 respectfully, sophomores Kayla Crochet, Emily Langley, and Ashley Sykes have led the Lady Wolves in slugging percentage at the plate. Co-Lin batters have only hit 13 home runs all season, with Crochet leading that charge with 7 of them, and a team-high 50 hits. Sykes is Co-Lin’s RBI leader, having driven in a team-high 28.

Kent said Becca Bailey, the right-handed, hard-throwing sophomore from Baton Rouge, has a shot to become an All-American. That would give Co-Lin credit for having two of them on the roster in the last three seasons.

Not Much Preparation: Kent said that, at this stage of the season, there is not much more in terms of preparation his troops can go through before their first game.

As the sixth-season Co-Lin coaching veteran explains it: “I think our players realize how big this is, and, (with) the way we’ve prepared ourselves all year long, (the players’) instincts are just going to take over.”

NJCAAKent acknowledges that his team is prepared for anything from the opposition, and that they will not face anybody considered pushovers. “We realize how much better the competition is up there,” he said. “We realize the level of competition is so much greater.

“We’re just proud to be going to (NJCAAs),” Kent concluded.

Finished Third In ’06: Co-Lin’s last appearance in this tourney here in 2006 resulted in a third place finish behind the strengths of pitcher Emily Horne and outfielder Annie Selman.

Fans seeing those games got the gist of “small ball” then, as Co-Lin either won or lost their games by the same score – 2-1 – to every opponent they faced. They defeated Kankakee Community College in round one and Parkland Community College in round two; dropped into the loser’s bracket with an extra-inning loss to Phoenix College; and claimed third with a win over Parkland College.

Both Kankakee CC and Phoenix College are making return trips to the tournament this year.

So…This Is Normal: The Co-Lin team will travel 13 hours by bus to this community of over 50,000, which is in a twin city set-up with the City of Bloomington, and 130 miles south of Chicago. Another tournament participant, Heartland Community College, based in Normal, although established in 1991, did not begin its athletics program until last fall, debuting Men’s and Women’s Soccer. This spring is the freshman season for Heartland’s Softball program, making their debut in NJCAAs on the first try.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 13th, 2008 at 1:20 pm and is filed under Brookhaven Daily Leader, Copiah-Lincoln Community College, NJCAA Softball. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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