Coaches renew acquaintances at tourney
By By Marty Stamper/EMG sports assistant
May 17, 2002
KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Many of the coaches in the NJCAA Division I Fast-Pitch Softball National Championship are regulars in the annual event.
Central Arizona College's Craig Nicholson has been quite successful in his six seasons as coach of the Vaqueras. CAC won national championships in 1997 and 1999 and was the runner-up in 1996 and 2000 under Nicholson.
Indian River's Dale Atkinson is in his fourth season as coach of the Lady Pioneers. Indian River (Fla.) brought a 187-52 record into the tournament under Atkinson's tenure.
Utah Valley State College's Todd Fairbourne is 235-91 in his sixth year as coach of the Wolverines. His 2000 team went 5-0 in the national tournament to claim UVSC's first-ever national championship in any sport.
UVSC is making its third straight appearance in the national tournament.
Frank Barnes has averaged 51 wins per season since taking over the Johnson County (Kan.) softball program in 1997. He has elevated the program to such a level that anything less than an NJCAA tournament berth is considered by JCCC fans to be an unsuccessful season, according to a media release by the school.
Johnson County placed fourth nationally in 1997 and was fifth in 1998. The 59 wins by the 98 team are a school record, although the current team entered this year's national tournament with a 55-7 mark.
Wabash Valley coach Paul Schnarre is 617-160 in his time with the Lady Warriors. Wabash placed ninth in last year's tournament.
Dodge City (Kan.) coach Howie Smith has a 323-220 record in his 11th season with the Lady Conqs. His 2000 team finished fourth in the national tournament.
Meridian's Robert Eakins has taken the Lady Eagles to three straight NJCAA tournaments. He has been MCC's only head coach since the school switched from slow-pitch in 1998.
Over the last three years, MCC has gone 116-57 with this year's team finishing 35-29.
Many have done it
Johnson County (Kan.) has quite a tradition of pitching in its 23 seasons of fast-pitch. Five pitchers have earned seven All-American honors and there were 27 no-hitters and four perfect games entering this season.
Jamie Steeve wound up her career last year with six no-hitters.
Ann Buehrer started this year with no-hitters in each of her first four starts. Amanda Ohmes and Ashley Shartzer also have thrown no-hitters this year. Not bad at all when you consider that Amanda Campbell is actually the ace of this year's staff.
Meridian lost a 6-5 decision to Briarcliffe (N.Y.) College in eight innings in first-round action Thursday afternoon.
In other first-round games, top-ranked Central Arizona had to go nine innings before beating Galveston (Texas) 1-0 on a solo homer by Kaydi Forgia. The Vaqueras had only one other hit – a single by Stacy Mueller.
Central Arizona, 71-3, was the victim of 19 strikeouts, including four by Cathy Moreno.
Galveston had 10 hits, but leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth came back to haunt the Whitecaps, 43-16.
Other opening-round games saw St. Louis-Meramec rout Wabash Valley 12-4, Midland (Texas) blank Utah Valley State 1-0, Gulf Coast (Fla.) no-hit Dodge City (Kan.) 4-1, Chattanooga (Tenn.) State shut out Johnson County (Kan.) 3-0, Seminole (Okla.) nip Abraham Baldwin 5-4, and Indian River (Fla.) no-hit Indian Hills (Iowa) 2-0.
In elimination games later Thursday, Indian Hills defeated Meridian 2-0, Abraham Baldwin edged Johnson County 1-0, Utah Valley State ripped Dodge City 11-2, and Galveston eased past Wabash Valley 3-2 in eight innings.
The final round of games Thursday night had unbeaten teams squaring off. Central Arizona took on Meramec, Midland met Gulf Coast, Chattanooga played Seminole, and Briarcliffe tangled with Indian River.