The old cliche that it’s not how you start but how you finish must have been written for the 2011 version of Salt Lake Community College softball. After compiling an incredible 61-5 record in 2010, frustrations were high after the team’s record stood at just 2-4 after the first weekend of play.
“At that point we were pretty disappointed,” said head coach Mary Kay Amicone.
As it turns out, though, Amicone feels that there was a positive to that tough experience. “I think it was good for us. It was actually good for the young group to know that you can’t play like that and expect to win.”
And win they did. Anchored by Scenic West Athletic Conference Player of the Year Krystin Jachim and the conference’s pitcher of the year, Ariel Zimmerman, the Lady Bruins went on to lose just five of their final 59 contests en route to a second place finish at the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament in St. George in May.
“We knew that we could pull together and make something great happen,” Zimmerman said.
It was that willingness to be resilient that Amicone counts as one of the greatest strengths of this year’s team.
“We had a theme that we were going to fight together,” she said. “They [her team] were always pretty hard working. They knew that everyone plays their best game against Salt Lake.”
Perhaps at no point was their resiliency tested more than during the championship game of the Region 18 tournament here in Salt Lake against the College of Southern Idaho. Ahead by three runs going into the seventh and final inning, a storm came, halting play for nearly an hour.
When the weather finally settled, CSI’s bats came alive, as they racked up five runs to take a two run lead. The Lady Bruins charged back though, sending the game into extra frames. But CSI wasn’t going to go away quietly as a home run in the top of the 8th inning gave them a one-run edge. SLCC’s resiliency remained, though, as they strung together two runs in the bottom of the 8th to win the game, and the Region 18 crown. Amicone remarked that such a win “was exactly what we needed” heading into the national tournament the following week.
A second-place finish at nationals for the softball team would dominate headlines at most schools, but the baseball team had a very special season of their own. Thanks to jumping out to a 30-2 record, the Bruins found themselves with the title of the best team in the nation at the beginning of April. At that time, head coach David “D.G.” Nelson commented that, “They [his team] just hate to lose and are going to keep competing every day.”
That willingness to compete every day didn’t end once the Bruins had reached the pinnacle of the national rankings, as they joined the Lady Bruins in capturing a Region 18 title of their own. Unlike in softball though, one more hurdle remained before a berth in the national tournament was secured. After winning region, the district tournament was held where Salt Lake fell just short in the championship game.
Amicone summed up both the softball and baseball seasons well when she remarked, “You don’t come to Salt Lake thinking that you are going to be middle of the road or sneak up on someone. You come here knowing that you want to be the champion.”