CLINTON, Miss. – Riding an offensive wave in the fifth inning, Kankakee (Ill.) defeated East Central (Miss.) 5-1 on May 16 to claim its first NJCAA Division II Softball championship.
Cavaliers sophomore pitcher Charlie Nolan shutdown the East Central offense with a solid, complete game performance. In seven innings, she gave up just three hits and one walk. The Warriors lone run of the game was unearned. Nolan was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Pitcher, allowing just three earned runs in 30 innings pitched during the week.
Leading the Cavaliers offensive effort was sophomore left fielder Stephanie Sanderson. Going 1-for-2 from the plate, she hit a three-run home run that busted the game open for Kankakee. Sophomore catcher Brittany Plimmer – tabbed the tournament’s Most Valuable Player – went 1-for-3 with an RBI, while freshman right fielder Andrea Beal recorded the Cavaliers other run with a sacrifice fly.
After falling behind 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning, Kankakee quickly responded with an offensive outburst in the top of the fifth. The Cavaliers scored all five of their runs in the inning and shut out the Warriors the rest of the way.
Kankakee freshman shortstop Brittany Hay received the Most Outstanding Defensive Player award after giving up just one error in 16 total chances in the week. Hay, Nolan and Sanderson were joined by Cavaliers freshman second baseman Bailey Porter on the all-tournament team.
Following a 5-0 first-round victory over Labette (Kan.), the Cavaliers took down top-seeded Phoenix (Ariz.) 11-3 in the second round. Kankakee topped Des Moines Area (Iowa) 5-2 in the quarterfinals before run-ruling Johnson County (Kan.) 13-1 in the semifinals.
With wins in all five of their games at the tournament, the Cavaliers completed their season with a 45-6 overall record. Despite a gutsy five-game run after losing the opening round, East Central fell to 48-14 with the defeat in the title game.
-- Courtesy of NJCAA.org