LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Head coach Dennis Clark, along with assistant coaches Bill Wendling, Jim Grimes and Heather Wilken of the National Champion Kankakee Community College (Ill.) have been selected the NFCA National Junior College Athletic Association DII National Coaching Staff of the Year, announced on Monday.
Behind a perfect 8-0 run through the NJCAA DII Tournament, KCC claimed the program’s first national championship. Under the direction of NJCAA Softball Hall of Famer and 33-year head coach Dennis Clark, the eight-seeded Cavaliers capped off a season-ending 12-game winning streak with a 5-1 victory over East Central Community College (Miss.) in the title game. En route to the championship, KCC defeated Labette (Kan.) (5-0), top-seeded Phoenix College (Ariz.) (11-3), Des Moines Area (Iowa) (5-2) and Johnson County (Kan.) (13-1).
Finishing with 45-6 mark, KCC erased a slow start (1-3) by winning 26 of its next 27 games courtesy of 15 and 11-game winning streaks. The Cavaliers took home the Region IV District C championship with victories over Moraine Valley (12-2) and South Suburban College (12-2 / 8-1). Clark, who has amassed 1176 wins over his 33 years at KCC, and his staff of Wendling, Grimes and Wilken were recognized as the NFCA Midwest Region Coaching Staff of the Year.
Other regional winners this season were:
East – Owens Community College (Ohio)
Head Coach: Marcus Smith
Assistant Coach: Carly Hewitt
Record: 32-18 (10-2 OCCAC)
Following a 4-9 start, the Express won 11 of their next 12 and rode that momentum the rest of the season en route to a OCCAC regular season title. OCC swept through the Region XII District G Tournament, defeating Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Sinclair Community College (twice), earning the 15th seed for the NCJAA DII Championship tournament. The Express went 1-2 picking up an elimination game victory over Sauk Valley Community College, before exiting the tournament with loss to the No. 1 seed Phoenix College.
South – Phoenix College (Ariz.)
Head Coach: Heinz Mueller
Assistant Coaches: Bart Day, Desirea Gil, Jon Nimtz, and Lisa Tanowski
Record: 53-12 (39-9 ACCAC)
Sitting at 8-3, early on in the season, the Bears broke off 30 wins in 31 games, which included a season-long 22-game winning streak. Behind three straight elimination wins, Phoenix took home the Region I Softball championship. Avenging an earlier loss to Pima CC, Phoenix defeated Pima twice on the final day (6-2, /11-1) to earn the title. Coming into the national tournament as the No. 1 seed, the Bears went 2-2. They opened with a victory over Potomac State (W.Va.) (9-2) and also topped Owens CC (11-2), but would drop games to the eventual the National Champions, Kankakee (Ill.), and the runner-up, East Central (Miss.).