Trailblazer Softball Makes First Regional Appearance

The Ohio Christian University Trailblazer softball team made their first appearance at the National Christian College Athletic Association Mideast Regional Softball Tournament this week at Midcontinent University in Mayfield, KY. Four other teams participated in the tournament including King College from Bristol, TN who came in ranked 6th in the nation, Oakland City University from Oakland City, Indiana, host Midcontinent University, and Covenant College from Lookout Mountain, GA.

The Trailblazers went into the tournament as the number 5 seed and faced Covenant College in the tournament opener at 8:00 AM on Tuesday morning. The Trailblazers would eventually fall to the Scots in five innings. "Covenant is a good team. They are well coached and they play hard," said head coach Emory Clark. Covenant would eventually finish in 2nd place for the tournament after a long Wednesday that saw them play four games including a two game championship duel with eventual Mideast Region tournament champion Oakland City University.

The Trailblazers lost their second game of the tournament to the host Cougars of Midcontinent University. Midcontinent entered the loser's bracket after falling 2-1 to Oakland City in their opening game. "Again, Midcontinent is a well coached team. They play very solid defense and they hit the ball very well. Every time we tried to adjust to where they were hitting it, they would hit it somewhere else. They played an excellent game of hit and run softball," said Coach Clark.

This was Ohio Christian University's first appearance in the regional tournament. It was also the first time that Ohio Christian University softball has been honored to have a player named to the all region team. Freshman center fielder Courtney Schilling, who was not able to attend the tournament, was chosen by the coaches of the Mideast region as a member of the regional team based on her regular season stats. "Courtney finished our regular season ranked 2nd in the nation in stolen bases per game. She had the highest batting average for our team, and was named 2010 Trailblazer Softball Offensive Player of the Year," said Coach Clark.

The trip to the tournament was not a total loss for the Trailblazers. Coach Clark commented on the educational value of the trip. "Our team got an opportunity to see the caliber of teams we are going to have to be able to compete against if we want to be competitive in the NCCAA. The two teams we faced, as well as all the other teams we had an opportunity to watch, were good teams. This week gave some of our players the chance to see things they might need to do differently. It is easy for me as a coach to tell them how to do some things, but sometimes being able to watch someone else do it is a great teaching tool. The last couple of days I had the opportunity to sit with some of our players and point out things like, 'See how she did that?' and 'Did you see that foot work?' Not only did it help our players, but it gave me an opportunity to see a few things I might do differently as a coach. It was a positive learning experience for us all as a program."   

The Trailblazers look to return all of the players who attended this week's tournament for the 2011 season. "This group of ladies is going to be the core of our program for the next few years. Most of the ladies on this year's team were freshman and first year players. This week gave them one more opportunity to come that much closer together. It was neat to see the chemistry that has begun to develop among some of them. It is exciting to hear them asking, 'Coach, what can I work on over the summer?' and 'When can we get together this summer and play some ball?' That tells me that there is an excitement brewing about where they believe our program can go. When you begin to believe, nothing is impossible."

 In addition to those returning players, Coach Clark believes he will be adding a recruiting class that will make an immediate and positive impact on the Trailblazer softball program. "We have been working hard on recruiting this year. We have made several contacts, and in the very near future we hope to begin seeing the fruits of that labor by signing some of the newest members of the Trailblazer softball program," he said. "The future of our program is really starting to look very positive. We want to build a solid, successful program and I believe we are heading in the right direction. I am excited about where Trailblazer softball could be as a program in the next year or two."

Ohio Christian University softball competes in the National Christian College Athletic Association and in the Ohio Collegiate Athletic Conference. For more information about the Ohio Christian University softball program visit the Ohio Christian University website at www.ohiochristian.edu or contact Coach Emory Clark at 740-477-7707 or by email at eclark@ohiochristian.edu.