After weeks of firmly holding on to the number one spot in NJCAA Division I softball, the Lady Tigers clinched the deal by defeating the second-seeded Lady Bruins of Salt Lake Community College, 4-1, on a three-hitter by MVP Ashley Czechner.
"The feeling of winning a National Championship stirs virtually every emotion a person can have," says Chattanooga State Athletic Director Steve Jaecks. "There’s happiness beyond belief, relief, and the knowledge that a National Championship is with you for a lifetime.”
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, Ariz. Next, they faced the Salt Lake Lady Bruins again, winning twice in order to claim their ultimate victory.
When asked about her reaction to the momentary loss to Salt Lake, Coach Beth 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. Keylon-Randolph was honored as the outstanding tournament coach, while Czechner received outstanding pitcher, most valuable player, and all-tournament team honors.
“Just to see the girls celebrate the National Championship they earned from all their hard work in practice, study and play is gratifying,” adds Jaecks.
Czechner will continue her softball career at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La. In addition, Lady Tigers Lacye Walker, Andrea Dalton and Beth Breeden were named to the all-tournament team.
Over the course of the Lady Tigers' spectacular 62-4 season, there were two other noteworthy events. They defeated the UTC Lady Mocs in a 5-0 shutout earlier in the season, and Czechner finished with 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.