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Owens Community College Women’s Softball Advances to NJCAA National Championship Tournament, May 19-21
The Owens Community College women’s softball team is one step away from being crowned national champions after capturing their respective regional tournament title this past weekend. As a result of their postseason success, the women’s softball program will now advance to the NJCAA Division II National Championships, Thursday-Saturday, May 19-21.
This marks Owens’ first trip to the national championship tournament in only its seventh season of existence. The Express earned their trip to nationals by defeating the defending regional champion Lansing Community College 8-2 this past weekend in NJCAA competition.
“We are extremely proud of our Owens Express student-athletes and their outstanding success,” said Jim Welling, Owens Director of Student Enrichment and Athletics. “Having an athletic program advance to a national championship is quite an accomplishment. The program’s success is a credit to the work ethic and dedication of our players and coaching staffs, and their commitment to playing team softball.”
The Express women’s softball team will take a 43-10 overall record into the NJCAA Division II National Championship Tournament, which will be held at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Led by Head Coach Duane Lanham, Owens received a first round bye and will play the winner of Kankakee Community College (Kankakee, Illinois, 40-12)-Muscatine Community College (Muscatine, Iowa, 52-10) in second round action, beginning at 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 19. A win advances Lanham’s squad to the quarterfinals where they would play at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 20. Owens will play at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 19, in the consolation bracket should they lose their second round game. The championship game of the double elimination national tournament will occur on Saturday, May 21.
The list of 12 teams competing in the tournament and their district designation are (A) Phoenix College of Phoenix, Arizona (58-8); (B) Black Hawk College of Moline, Illinois (45-5); (C) Kankakee Community College of Kankakee, Illinois (40-12); (D) Muscatine Community College of Muscatine, Iowa (52- 10); (E) Owens Community College of Toledo, Ohio (43-10); (F) Oakland Community College of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (27-15); (G) Dean College of Franklin, Massachusetts (17-6); (H) The Community College of Baltimore County-Catonsville of Catonsville, Maryland (27-3); (I) Cowley County Community College of Arkansas City, Kansas (49-9); (J) Murray State College of Tishomingo, Oklahoma (N/A); (K) Meridian Community College of Meridian, Mississippi (17-24), and (L) Parkland College of Champaign, Illinois (49-6).
“I feel privileged to coach such an outstanding group of student-athletes,” said Lanham. “Our success has truly been a team effort. Each individual has shown a dedication to playing very unselfish softball and a willingness to do whatever it takes to win. I’m very proud them.”
The Owens women’s softball program captured the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (OCCAC) regular season championship with 18-0 mark. During the season, the Express were ranked as high as No. 8 in the NJCAA Division II women’s softball poll. Additionally, the 43 victories is a school record for most wins in a season, surpassing the previous mark of 41 in 2003.
Members of the Express women’s softball program are April Nietrzeba of Maumee (Maumee H.S.), Jenae Caldwell of Millbury (Lake H.S.), Mandy Wingate of Lambertville, Michigan (Bedford H.S.), Leigh Zajac of Rossford (Rossford H.S.), Sarah Morgart of Wayne (Elmwood H.S.), Ashley Correll of Fostoria (Fostoria H.S.) and Jenny Shultz of Grand Rapids (Otsego H.S.).
The Owens roster also includes Lindsay Guinn of Erie, Michigan (Mason H.S.), Cortney Simmons of Rossford (Rossford H.S.), Kari Bockbrader of Toledo (Whitmer H.S.), Monica Brinkman of Oregon (Notre Dame Academy), Allicia Lawrence of Fostoria (St. Wendelin H.S.), Katie Henry of Erie, Michigan (Mason H.S.), Tracy Lehman of Whitehouse (Anthony Wayne H.S.), Kelli Short of Toledo (Rogers H.S.), Kylie Zweifel of Sylvania (Southview H.S.), Mackenzie Heban of Grand Rapids (Notre Dame Academy), Crissy Kohler of Oregon (Clay H.S.), Valerie Jesse of Lambertville, Michigan (Bedford H.S.) and Victoria Kolb of Toledo (Central Catholic H.S.).
Owens Community College is one of the fastest-growing higher educational institutions in Ohio. On the Toledo-area and Findlay-area campuses, Owens serves more than 45,000 credit and non-credit students, making it the number one choice for new college students. Owens is committed to providing small classes, personal attention and unmatched affordability. Owens Community College offers over 130 program areas in Agriculture, Business, Fine and Performing Arts, Health, Public Service, Skilled Trades, and Industrial and Engineering Technologies. Owens students also can earn the first two years of a bachelor’s degree with a smooth transfer to any area four-year college or university.