Chattanooga State pitcher Ashlety Czechner was the most valuable player of the national junior college softball tournament at St. George, Utah, won by the Lady Tigers over the weekend.
Andrea Dalton, Lacye Walker and Beth Breeden also won honors, and Beth Keylon-Randolph was named the tournament's most valuable coach.
Chattanooga State came out of the consolation bracket and defeated #2 Salt Lake Community College twice to gain the title. The Lady Tigers, who were ranked first in the nation for most of the season, at one point were one out away from elimination.
Tthe Lady Tigers clinched the deal by beating Salt Lake Community College 4-1 on a three-hitter by MVP Czechner.
“The feeling of winning a national championship stirs virtually every emotion a person can have. There’s happiness beyond belief, relief, and the knowledge that a national championship is with you for a lifetime,” said Chattanooga State Athletic Director Steve Jaecks.
“Just to see the girls celebrate the national championship they earned from all their hard work in practice, study and play is gratifying,” added Jaecks.
The Lady Tigers’ march to victory was not without setbacks. On Friday, a 4-1 loss in the winners-bracket final to Salt Lake, a school with more than 60,000 students, forced Chattanooga State to battle back by winning three games on Saturday. First, the Lady Tigers defeated the Pima Community College Lady Aztecs of Tucson. Next, they faced the Salt Lake Lady Bruins again in two games in order to claim their ultimate victory.
When asked about her reaction to the momentary loss to Salt Lake, Coach Keylon-Randolph replied, “It’s funny, when you lose a game like that your first reaction is to get nervous, but we never felt we were in trouble. My team was convinced overwhelmingly that they would win, which made me feel really confident.”
Prior to this year’s win, the Lady Tigers best tournament showing was third place in 2008. However, with 16 years of tournament appearances out of 18 years of NJCAA Division I play, the Lady Tigers not only brought home the championship trophy, but other prestigious honors as well.
Czechner will continue her softball career at LSU.
Over the course of the Lady Tigers softball teams’ spectacular season with a 62-4 record, there were two other noteworthy events: they defeated the UTC Lady Mocs in a 5-0 shutout earlier in the season; and Czechner had 374 strikeouts, the most of any pitcher in NJCCA history.
As a way of commemorating the Lady Tigers’ accomplishment, bricks may be purchased from the Chattanooga State Foundation to honor the coach, individual team members or the team as a whole. Each brick will be permanently enshrined in an area between the Athletic Field House and the softball field. Proceeds from the sale of these commemorative bricks will be used to support the Lady Tigers softball team. For further details or to purchase a brick contact Associate Vice President Holly Reeve at 423 697-2656 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The team will be honored in ceremonies at the Chattanooga State softball field on Tuesday at 2 p.m.
2012 NJCAA DIVISION I WOMEN'S SOFTBALL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
INFIELD: Lacye Walker, Chattanooga State Community College; Michal Robertson, Wallace State Community College; Alicia Eger, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M; Brooke Budge, Salt Lake Community College
OUTFIELD: Tanisha Anderson, Salt Lake Community College; Whitney Brown, Wallace State Community College; Andrea Dalton, Chattanooga State Community College
BATTERY: Ariel Zimmerman, Salt Lake Community College; Heather Parker, Wallace State Community College; Paige Mathews, State College of Florida; Paige Rowland, Wallace State Community College
UTILITY/DP: Beth Breeden, Chattanooga State Community College
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT
Savanah Webster, Salt Lake Community College
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT
Thomasina Garza, Blinn College
OUTSTANDING PITCHER OF THE TOURNAMENT
Ashlety Czechner, Chattanooga State Community College
KAREN L. SYKES OUTSTANDING COACH OF THE 2012 NJCAA TOURNAMENT
Beth Keylon-Randolph, Chattanooga State Community College
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER OF THE 2012 NJCAA TOURNAMENT
Ashley Czechner, Chattanooga State Community College (5-1, 3.31 ERA, 37 K in 32.2 IP)