A year ago Salt Lake Community College softball head coach Mary Kay Amicone oversaw a club that went 49-9 and won a Region 18 championship, but failed to close the case in the NJCAA tournament, finishing in fifth place.
It was a good season by all measures, but compared to 2010, last year looked rather pedestrian. After a four game sweep of North Idaho, the Bruins record now stands at 35-0 and the sterling play has given SLCC the number one spot in the NJCAA rankings.
“It’s an honor to be ranked number one in the nation,” said Amicone. “It’s a testament to these girls and the hard work they have been putting in all year.”
This is the first number one ranking in the history of Bruins softball and only the second time any SLCC team has held the number one spot in a sport. There are a plethora of reasons why SLCC has been so dominant, but their offense is the most noteworthy.
SLCC currently has ten players hitting over .400. Their entire starting lineup is hitting over .300 and the Bruins have scored more than ten runs in a game 19 times this season.
“It’s crazy. I mean it seems like all of us are seeing the ball really well right now,” said Cyd Allen, who leads the Bruins in batting average at .551, home runs with seven and RBI’s with 54. “I’m in a good groove right now, and hopefully I stay in it the rest of the way.”
Erika James has been harder to track down than Leonardo Dicaprio in “Catch Me if You Can” on the base paths, stealing 26 bases in 26 attempts. Freshman Katelyn Elliot has made her presence known as well in her debut season, ranking second on the team in home runs (six) and runs batted in (52).
“This team is good,” said Amicone. “But they have a chance to be very special. I see it in their approach to the game. When it’s time to play this team locks in.”
The Bruin pitching staff has been equally impressive. Every SLCC pitcher has an earned run average below two runs per game. Jordyn McDonald has been lights out in the circle, going 15-0 with a 1.13 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 80 innings of work.
Sarah Clark is 13-0 with a 1.42 ERA while Reilee O’Brien is 7-0 and freshman Krystin Jachim has yet to allow a hit in seven innings of work.
“Our pitching has been so good,” said Allen. “You’re going to win a lot of games when the opposing team doesn’t score.”
The Bruins sit atop the SWAC conference standings at 23-0, which gives them a five game lead over the next closest team, College of Southern Idaho. But with 24 more SWAC games to go, the Bruins cannot afford to rest on their laurels. The winner of the SWAC conference gets the right to host the Region 18 tournament.
“Our goal is not to go undefeated,” said Amicone. “If it happens, of course it will mean a lot. But we have to take care of conference play first and foremost. We want to be here at home for the region tournament.”