PLANT CITY, Fla. – Fourth-seeded Pima Community College (Tucson, AZ) edged third seed Gulf Coast Community College (Panama City, FL) 3-2 Saturday afternoon to claim the 2006 National Junior College Athletic Association’s (NJCAA) Division I softball national championship.
The Aztecs (60-10) grabbed a quick 1-0 lead, then had to battle back from a one-run deficit to claim its second national title in three years. The 2006 match-up was a near mirror image of the 2004 national title game where Pima beat Gulf Coast by a single run.
Freshman outfielder Ashley Aldrich hit into the second out of the third inning, but it brought home Amanda Duran with the eventual game-winning run in Plant City Stadium, leaving Gulf Coast (56-10) still without a national softball title.
Dana Alcocer pitched a complete game for the win, earning MVP accolades for the effort. The Aztecs won all five games during the tournament, which began on Thursday.
Gulf Coast’s Debby Connor hit a two-run home run to left field in the bottom of the first inning to give the Lady Commodores a 2-1 lead. Freshman Sarah Dooley went the distance and took the loss.
The national championship, which took place at the world headquarters of the International Softball Federation (ISF), will return to Plant City in 2007 and 2008.
Second seed Indian River Community College fell hard in the semi-final game, which was a battle of Florida teams. Gulf Coast hung a 9-2 defeat on the Pioneers, who finish 57-13 on the year. Indian River had actually taken an early lead with single tallies in the bottom of the first two innings, but the Lady Commodores got things going in the top of the fourth inning and avenged a 3-1 loss to Indian River Friday afternoon.
The first four Gulf Coast batters singled in the top of the fourth, and two batters later, with the score 2-2, the bases were loaded with just one out. The Pioneers changed pitchers, but the switch didn’t stop Gulf Coast. Anadys Suarez’s two-RBI single made it 4-2, and the next at-bat ended the inning with the Lady Commodores up by two. One inning later, Gulf Coast scored three more times, highlighted by a 2-RBI single from Natalie Vogler. Gulf Coast tacked on two more scores in the top of the sixth on a home run to deep left field by Debby Connor. Vogler finished 3-for-4 with a run scored. Winning pitcher Sarah Dooley went the distance, striking out seven and walking just two.
In the first game Saturday morning, sixth seeded Chattanooga State Technical Community College (55-14) had a four-game winning streak snapped, falling 4-1 to Gulf Coast. The Lady Tigers opened the tournament Thursday with a 4-1 loss to the 11th seed and ran off four straight victories until the bats fell silent on Saturday. Gulf Coast’s Stacie David pitched a complete game, striking out 11 Chattanooga batters. Offensively, Blythe Golden and Anadys Suarez hit two-run home runs in the second and seventh innings, respectively, to lead the Lady Commodores.
2006 NJCAA All-Tournament Team
Dana Alcocer - Pima Community College
Ashley Aldrich - Pima Community College
Shanon Anderson - Pima Community College
Debby Connor - Gulf Coast Community College
Kami Crane - Temple Community College
Sarah Dooley - Gulf Coast Community College
Amanda Duran - Pima Community College
Cyndi Duran - Pima Community College
Elizabeth Gosby - Indian River Community College
Saskia Kosterink - Gulf Coast Community College
Anadys Suarez - Gulf Coast Community College
India Turner - Chattanooga State Technical Community College
Stacy Iveson (coach) - Pima Community College