Twenty-four of the nation’s top junior college softball programs will
convene in LaGrange, Ga., for the second NFCA Junior College Leadoff
Classic, to be held Mar. 11-13 at Shuford Fields.
Nine teams that finished last season ranked in the final NJCAA polls will
participate in the Leadoff Classic. Gulf Coast (Fla.), ranked fourth in
the final NJCAA Division I poll, leads the way, followed by fifth-ranked
Chattanooga State (Tenn.), 11th-ranked Blinn, 12th-ranked Daytona Beach,
18th-ranked Young Harris and 20th-rated Central Alabama.
Parkland finished the 2004 campaign ranked second nationally in NJCAA
Division II, while fellow competitor Wallace-Dothan fell just behind in
the third spot. Anne Arundel closed out 2004 third in Division III.
Teams will compete in round-robin play in six, four-team pools. Following
pool play, the top team from each pool, along with two at-large teams,
will advance to the Gold Championship Bracket. The remaining four
second-place teams, along with four at-large teams, will be placed in the
Silver Championship Bracket. The remaining eight teams will be assigned to
the Bronze Championship Bracket.
All brackets will be single elimination/consolation. Each team will play a
minimum of five games (three pool, two bracket) regardless of pool or
The tournament begins Friday at noon, with bracket play beginning Saturday
at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The Fillies posted a 23-21 record, including a 10-8 conference mark, but
the squad has reloaded with 10 newcomers to go along with a core of six
Donna Campbell’s team will rely on returning pitcher Kate Thompson to
bolster the defense while Celia Petty, Erica Pope, Jenee Hix and Ashley
Harrison return to lead the offense.
Alvin heads into the season looking to rebound from a 23-41 campaign in
2004. Dr. Jennifer Hightower’s squad will be youthful at nearly every
position as only four starters return from a year ago. Crystal Medina
returns to lead the offense after hitting a team-best .301 with 23 RBIs.
The pitching staff will look to freshman Sara Rader to help contribute
along with Medina following the loss of Vanessa Barbosa and Jamie Day, the
squad’s top two pitchers a year ago.
Don Bishoff’s squad finished fourth nationally in Division III last season
after claiming the national championship in 2003.
Despite the loss of some key players from last year’s run, they do return
top pitcher Kristi Forrester who earned second-team NJCAA Division III
All-American after posting an 11-1 record and a 0.93 ERA.
Blinn finished the season 11th in the final NJCAA poll, marking the second
consecutive year the program reached the 50-win pleateau. The 2005
campaign looks good for Rick Church’s squad as he returns eight players
from last year’s squad.
Krissie Conner will bolster the Bucs’ offense after leading the squad with
a .356 average and 42 RBIs. While she heads up a potent offense, Anna Lamb
will look to once again keep opposing offenses in check after she tallied
a 29-9 record in 2004, the most wins by a freshman in school history. She
will be joined by Candi Kloecker, who won 20 games while posting a
team-leading 0.93 ERA.
Central Alabama heads to LaGrange with a potent offense returning from
last year’s 48-14 squad that advanced to the Division I national
Heather Fox aims at a repeat performance of 2004 as she paced the squad
with a .394 average, 15 home runs and 63 RBIs. She will be complimented by
Labeth Aycock, who was second on the squad with a .364 average and 33
RBIs. In the circle, the Trojans will look to Mallory York to step up
following the loss of Ann Marie Odum.
Chattahoochee Valley finished up at 23-23 a year ago, but things are
looking up for the squad in 2005 as they return the majority of the lineup
from a year ago.
Leading hitter Hayley Hilderbrand returns after leading three players who
hit over .500 for the year in 2004. Angie Dimattia aims for an improved
sophomore season after making 40 appearances as a rookie and posting a
Chattanooga State enters the 2005 campaign looking to build on a solid
2004 season that saw the Tigers finish fifth nationally with a 56-4 mark.
The Tigers return an explosive punch from that squad including Katie
Rockwell who hit .468 with 11 home runs and 51 RBIs.
The circle will be the question mark for the Tigers as Ashley Wilks and
Allison Thomas will be replaced by a youthful contingent.
Kelly Richards’ Columbia Basin squad looks to challenge in the tough
NWAACC after finishing 21-18 and fourth in the East Division a year ago.
The 2005 Hawks return a pair of .500-plus hitters in Katie Stokes and
Jenny McCourtie. They will get some additional help this year from
newcomer Ashley Felch who hit .600 during the fall. The pitching will
benefit from the addition of Nina Doane, who dominated the area during her
Dana Corr’s Lady Cavaliers look to build on a record-setting 2004 season.
The squad set a school record for wins in a season (34) last season and
finished third in conference action, the best finish in the school’s
This year’s contingent returns a solid nucleus, and Corr has added some
talented freshman in hopes of advancing the program further in her fifth
season as head coach.
Daytona Beach enters the season looking to defend its Mid-Florida
Conference title after finishing 12th nationally in 2004 with a 45-13
The Falcons will have to replace an NFCA All-American and six other
standout players, but the squad returns a mix that includes all-conference
outfielder Amy Higgs. The squad has a solid pitching staff that returns
three players, Elly Gosby, Taren Walton and Shauna Hawthorne.
Florida Community College
Fresh off consecutive second and third-place finishes at the state
tournament, Florida Community College is set for another stellar campaign
The squad returns a tough pitching staff that features Suzie Finger who
recorded a 5-1 record and 0.95 ERA a year ago. She will be joined by a
talented group of freshman in the circle that will also receive help from
a potent offense that is led by Nikki Giuliani in the outfield and Cori
Rascati in the infield.
The Jaguars head to LaGrange with an air of excitement following a 23-22
2004 campaign that included a trip to the regional semifinals.
Behind sophomore Andrea Moss, Georgia Perimeter’s pitching staff could be
the best in school history with the addition of freshmen Ashley Cowan and
Ashley Whitaker. Dani Fox returns to pace the offense after hitting .294
a year ago with 13 RBIs.
Gulf Coast Community College
Fresh off a second-place finish at nationals, Gulf Coast Community College
enters 2005 looking to take the next step, although it will be tough with
the loss of the squad’s top four hitters from last season’s 57-15-1 squad.
Joyce Roodenburg and Brittany Walters return to bolster the offense after
hitting .323 and .289, respectively, a year ago. Walters will also see
action in the circle along with returnee Ginger Reeser, who went 27-6 with
a 1.10 ERA and 140 strikeouts.
After finishing a game shy of the Region XXIV championship a year ago with
a 29-23 mark, Marty Pump’s squad returns with a potent offensive attack
and veteran leadership in the circle.
Two of the team’s top hitters from 2004 will step up to the plate again
this year. Andrea Brant led the squad with a stellar .371 average and 22
RBIs, while Alissa Kruse returns behind the plate after hitting .308 with
13 RBIs a year ago. The Cougars will look to Janelle Phillips to hold down
the circle after she posted a 2.35 ERA last season.
The top-ranked team from a year ago, Indian River will not be lacking
motivation after finishing third at the national tournament and 56-4
overall in 2004.
The Lady Pioneers have a solid nucleus returning in 2005 to go along with
a group of newcomers that look to make an immediate impact.
Sheilah Cotten led her team to the Region X championship a year ago, but
she faces a difficult challenge of replacing many key components if the
squad looks to repeat last year’s success.
She will be faced with having to replace the entire pitching staff from
2004 along with the majority of the offensive output. Offensively, she
will rely on .348 hitter Keshia Venable and .343 hitter Becca Scarboro.
Meridian Community College
Meridian Community College enjoyed a successful run to the Division II
national tournament a year ago, and a veteran-laden squad could be the key
for Robert Eakins’ squad repeating that success in 2005.
Nine players return from last year’s squad, including team captain Katie
Barnett. JorD’an Orr will also bring an offensive spark to the squad,
while Stephanie Choo will anchor the pitching staff.
After facing a youthful squad a year ago, this year’s Navarro squad looks
to jump back into the national tournament with an experienced squad that
features 11 sophomores.
Dani Smith returns to lead the offense which paced Region XIV with a .343
average in 2004. Smith hit .434 for the league leader in home runs with
31. The pitching staff will seek to add depth behind Pamela Hopgood, an
11-game winner a year ago, standing as the top returnee in the circle.
Fresh off a fifth-place finish at nationals and No. 2 final national
ranking, Parkland once again looks to be a force in Division II.
Despite losing the majority of its pitching, the Cobras will be potent at
the plate with leading hitter Brittany Nash returning after posting a
solid .515 average a year ago. Her punch will be complimented by Neeley
Hupp’s speed after she successfully swiped 20 bases last season.
Pensacola Junior College
The 2004 edition of Pensacola Junior College softball was full of
inexperience. The squad returned only three players from the 2003 Pirate
squad that captured the school’s first conference softball title.
The 2005 edition looks to move back into championship contention again
this season with seven returnees back in the lineup. The pitching staff
should be solid as Judith Husband will receive some help from a talented
group of newcomers.
Tallahassee Community College
Patti Townsend encountered a tough rebuilding year in her first season as
head coach of the Eagles. Despite a 12-38 finish in 2004, her second year
is looking up despite only three returnees from a year ago.
Second baseman Amanda Helton, first baseman Paige Phillips and outfielder
Kristina Valente will be counted on to lead the offense, but they will
receive help from pitcher Kylie Berryman and utility player Robyn Sittig,
both transfers from 47-win North Florida.
Wallace Community College-Dothan
The 2005 Wallace Community College-Dothan softball team looks for big
things in 2005 after an outstanding run in 2004.
Two all-Americans return for the Lady Govs. Pitcher Blair Potter dominated
in the circle last season, posting a 0.321 ERA with 202 strikeouts. Holly
Elliott will be receiving her behind the plate once again after she hit
.450 with six home runs and 48 RBIs in 2004.
Wallace State Community College-Hanceville
Wallace State enters 2005 following a 49-18 2004 season that saw them win
their conference championship. A repeat of that performance will be
difficult this season, as the squad loses the heart of its offensive and
Samantha Landman returns for the offense after hitting .289 a year ago.
Kari Gunnells returns to the circle after seeing limited action a year
Young Harris College
Young Harris faces a difficult task in its attempt to better a 33-15
record that included a run to the regional and state tournament titles.
The offense returns catcher Hannah Christian, who hit .328 with 13 RBIs a
year ago. The pitching staff suffered the biggest hit, but the hope is
that a talented contingent of newcomers will be able to step in and