Ohio Christian University Softball Has a Historic Day

Saturday, April 2, 2011 was a historic day for the Ohio Christian University Trailblazer softball program as they hosted the Commodores of Lorain County Community College. Milestones were reached. Records were broken. "It was a great day to be a part of," said Head Coach Emory Clark.

The day didn't start exactly the way Trailblazers had hoped, however. "Our offense was slow getting started today," said Coach Emory Clark. "Add to that a couple of bad innings defensively due to errors and an injury to our starting pitcher (MacKenna Jennings), and we had our hands full."

The Trailblazers would only manage to muster 2 runs in the first game, both coming in the second inning. "We had a little bit of a rally starting," said Coach Clark. "A questionable call on an infield fly rule broke the momentum."

Defensively in game one the Trailblazers surrendered 12 runs to the Commodores, but only 5 of the 12 were earned. "We knew they would come in and put the ball in play," said Coach Clark. "We played them even for the first three innings. Then we committed 4 errors in the fourth inning and gave them a 5-0 lead." The Commodores would add seven more runs in the seventh inning. "MacKenna (Jennings) started having some trouble gripping the ball because of an injury from earlier in the game. That caused some control issues and they had three hits, three walks and on runner on by error," said Coach Clark. All of these runners would eventually score. Despite the injury Jennings would leave the game with 6 strikeouts. "When MacKenna had to leave we had to turn to Elizabeth Smith who hasn't pitched at all this year and had very little time pitching last season," said Coach Clark. "Liz proved she can be a leader. She stepped in and faced five batters, striking out two of them."

In between the two games the Trailblazers welcomed and recognized the parents and family members of this year's squad. "We started this tradition last year of having a day when we invite the parents and families of the players to come to the game, walk out with their daughter and be introduced and recognized," said Coach Clark. "I want to thank all of the parents and family members who came out, in the cold, and supported us today. Having the parents and families here made the events of the day that much more special for everyone. I also want to thank all of the parents for having the opportunity to work with their daughters. This is a great group of young ladies and I think we can expect a lot more from them this year."

The second game of the day saw the Trailblazers make history in more ways than one. On their way to the 15-11 win, the historic first varsity win in program history, the Trailblazers also set a record for the most runs scored in a single game.

"Offensively we came out hitting the second game," said Coach Clark. That they did. The Trailblazers opened up with a 5 hit, 6 run first inning. The first of three multiple run innings followed by a three run second inning and another six run inning in the fourth. Freshman left fielder Sharonda Jones would lead all scorers for the Trailblazers with a single, a triple, an on base by error, three runs scored and two runs batted in. "Sharonda joined us after the conclusion of the women's basketball season," said Coach Clark. "She has stepped up for us defensively, and in this game she showed why she can be an offensive threat both at the plate and on the base paths." Five Trailblazers, PaLaura Parker, MacKenna Jennings, Elizabeth  Smith, Crystal Thorne and Kelli Manning would each add two runs a piece. The other two runs were scored by Rachel Briggs and Sarah Williams.

Defensively freshman pitcher MacKenna Jennings also had a historic day for the Trailblazers. In just her first eight varsity appearances she has eclipsed the team record for most strikeouts in a single season finishing with a total of 13 strike outs, seven of which came after returning to the second game following the early exit from game one due to injury. The 13 strikeouts o the day brought her season total to 41 in just eight games. The previous record, held by 2010 ace Stacy Moody, was 30. "MacKenna is on track to break the century barrier in strikeouts in her first season," said Coach Clark. "I am really glad she is on her side and we aren't the ones having to try and hit against her. MacKenna is proving that she has the ability and potential to be a dominating pitcher at our level."

The Trailblazers were scheduled to be in action again on April 4th against St. Mary of the Woods out of Terra Haute, IN, but those games were cancelled due to rain. The Trailblazers are scheduled to be in action again on Friday, April 8th as they host the Lady Patriots from Southern State Community College with a 4:00 PM start. This will also be the date of the Trailblazers' re-scheduled faculty and staff appreciation game. Those games will be followed on Saturday, April 9th, at home, against the Lady Cougars from the University of Cincinnati-Clermont. Those games are scheduled to begin at 1:00 PM.

Ohio Christian University softball competes in the National Christian College Athletic Association Mid East Region and in the Ohio Collegiate Athletic Conference. For more information about OCU softball contact head coach Emory Clark at eclark@ohiochristian.edu or 740-477-7707.