Johnson County Community College
College Information and Publications
Tyler Cundith, sports information director, ext. 3122
Softball - JCCC softball season preview
Softball - JCCC softball season preview
The 39th edition of the Johnson County Community College softball squad is shaping up to be another stellar year as the Lady Cavaliers welcome back an experienced core of players along with a dynamic group of newcomers that has the team poised to make another run at a national championship.
Under the six-year leadership of head coach Aubree Brattin, Johnson County has never finished with a winning percentage under .700 in a season and have been a contender for conference and region/district titles each year. The 2017 campaign ended with a record of 35-7 and saw Brattin’s team reach the national tournament for the second time in three years. Johnson County finished tied for fifth and their run included a 10-7 win over No. 1 ranked Jones County Junior College. It was just the second time in team history that the Lady Cavaliers have defeated the No. 1 team in the country. The first was when Brattin was player for JCCC when they downed top-ranked Phoenix College at the 2007 NJCAA Championship.
Brattin’s club enters the 2018 season ranked in the preseason poll for a fourth straight year, holding down the fifth spot in this year’s NJCAA poll.
Johnson County’s biggest losses are pitchers Megan Deiter and Halle Still, who combined for 89 percent of the innings pitched. Deiter finished with a record of 22-4 and completed 21 of her 25 starts. Her 22 victories ranked sixth in the NJCAA. She also finished second in the NJCAA with a strikeout ratio of 11.16 and third with 245 strikeouts. She was named the Jayhawk Conference most valuable player and was selected as a NJCAA second-team All-American. Still was 9-2 overall, with seven complete games and 70 strikeouts.
Brattin need to replace the production from the bat of Taylor Kirk. She belted a team-high 14 home runs and led the team with 50 driven in.
Despite Kirk’s departure, the team’s hitting should be very good again in 2018. Sophomore outfielder Sammi Bates was one of the best in the country. Last year she hit .525 with 10 doubles, seven triples three home runs and 39 RBIs. She also garnered a suitcase full of honors. She was selected first-team All-Jayhawk Conference, All-Region VI/District B and NJCAA All-American. She also was named the Jayhawk Conference Freshman of the Year. With Bates leading the way, Johnson County will have a dangerous offense.
Bates will get some help from returnees Bayleigh Nelson, Shay Tolbert and Madison Wegner. Nelson hit .366 with seven doubles, two triples and 17 RBIs and was earned second-team All-Region/District B honors in the outfield. Tolbert hit .359 with four doubles, a triple, a home run and 17 driven in and was also a second-team All-Region V/District B outfielder. Wegner hit a .306 clip with seven doubles, a triple, a homer and 27 RBIs and earned second-team All-Region VI/District B selection at catcher.
Also back are outfielder Teresa Dolan and utility player Tyler Kiriakos. Both saw limited action last season, but have worked extremely hard and should she increased time on the field in 2018.
Among the 12 newcomers Brattin added to the roster, one brings a season collegiate experience with her. Alexis Ramos, an interior infielder, joins the squad after player her freshman season at Allen Community College. In her season with the Red Devils, Ramos batted .291 (32-for-110) with two doubles, 20 runs and 13 RBIs. She also stole seven bases and committed only two errors in 68 fielding chances.
Other newcomers in the infield include Allie Beswick of Abilene, Kan.; Jordan Clough of Blue Valley High School; Ali Heiman of Kapaun Mt. Carmel in Wichita, Kan.; and catcher Kerry Murphy of Winfield High School in Oxford, Kan.
Beswick was a four-year starter and a two-time All-North Central Kansas League selection. She collected 81 career hits, including 14 doubles, two triples, four home runs, 51 runs and 51 RBIs.
Clough was a three-year starter and two-time All-East Kansas League performer. She also selected as a Kansas All-Star following her senior season.
Heiman was a four-year starter and a three-time All-City selection. She earned honorable mention her sophomore and junior years and second-team as a senior.
Murphy was a four-year starter and was selected All-Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League D-III all four years, and was first-team selection three times. She was also named the AVCTL D-III Co-Player of the Year.
Newcomers in the outfield consists of Kayla Peak of Olathe North High School and Tatum Troutman of Prairie View High School in Fontana, Kan. Peak joined the JCCC program in January after spending the fall semester with the University of Nebraska-Omaha softball program. She was a three-year starter at Olathe North and a three-time Kansas 6A All-State performer. She may have been a four-time all-state pick but an injury forced her out of the lineup prior to her senior season.
Troutman was a two-year starter and four-time letter winner at Prairie View. She helped the Lady Buffaloes win a Kansas 4A Division II Regional title all four years and fourth place finish at state her senior year. Troutman at a .468 clip that season with three doubles, a triple and six RBIs.
Brattin also has at her service several athletes that possess the ability to play in both the infield and outfield. Those players are Torey Burkhardt of Silver Lake, Kan.; Manny Johansen of Blue Valley North High School; Jordan Leer of Belton, Mo.; and Kelsey Orender of Osage City, Kan.
Burkhardt was a three-year starter and helped Silver Lake win a state championship her sophomore year. She was also an accomplished volleyball player, and actually came to JCCC to play for the Lady Cavaliers volleyball program. Last fall, she played in all 32 matches and 118 of the 119 sets. She led the team and ranked 12th in the conference with 463 digs.
Johansen was a four-year starter and a four-time All-Eastern Kansas League selection. She earned honorable mention her freshman and sophomore seasons, and second-team as a junior and senior. She hit over. 400 all four years and set new career records with 135 hits, 90 runs and 51 stolen bases. She also pitched and registered a career record 20 wins.
Leer was a three-year starter and helped the Pirates win District titles in 2014 and 2015 and conference titles in 2014 and 2016.
Orender was a four-year starter and a two-time Kansas 3A All-State selection. She also earned All-Flint Hills League all four years. Orender hit .544 with nine doubles, four triples, eight home runs and 45 RBIs her senior season. She was also 15-5 in the circle with an ERA of 2.74 with 71 strikeouts. She could also see time this season as a pitcher.
In the circle, Brattin has expects sophomores Halle Brin and Abby Sweet will be the one-two punch that Deiter and Still were a year ago. Brin logged 19.1 innings last season and finished 2-1 with 10 strikeouts. She also saw some time at first base, getting 50 plate appearances with nine hits with a two doubles, a triple and four RBIs.
Sweet made just six appearances in the circle in 2017. She was 2-0 with five strikeouts in 10.1 innings of work.
Newcomer Kerrigan Dixon of Maize South High School in Maize, Kan., also will be part of the mix this season. Dixon was a four-year starter and selected as a first-team All-Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League D-II all four years.
For the sixth consecutive season, Johnson County will begin its campaign in Fort Worth, Texas playing in the Cowtown Classic. They open against Ranger College on Friday, Feb. 16, followed by games with Odessa College, Galveston College, North Central Texas and Central-Columbus. They open the home slate against No. 7 Kirkwood Community College on Thursday March 2, and four days later they travel to Kansas City Kansas Community College to open conference play.
Joining the Lady Cavaliers in the NJCAA D-II preseason poll are defending conference champion Cowley College and Highland Community College. Cowley was picked ninth, while Highland comes in at No. 16. Johnson County doesn’t play Cowley until late in the season, April 13 at JCCC. The Lady Cavalier travel to Highland on March 27.