Skipjacks are preseason No. 14 in national women’s softball poll
’09 World Series run leaves impression on NJCAA voters
The Chesapeake College women’s softball team’s run to the 2009 NJCAA Division II World Series apparently left a lasting impression.
The Skipjacks coming off a school-record, 23-win season that included their first Region XX softball title in 27 years are ranked 14th in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II national preseason poll. Chesapeake returns three starters including all-American pitcher/infielder Jordan Wright (North Dorchester High) and head coach Durrie Hayes added a strong freshman recruiting class that has apparently grabbed national attention.
"The ranking is mostly based off how we ended last season, but it’s still nice to get that recognition," said Hayes, who led Easton High to three state softball titles before coming to Chesapeake for the 2008 season. "Hopefully we’ll live up to it."
Voters may have been impressed by the fact that the Skipjacks return all three of their pitchers from last year’s team. In addition to Wright (10-5, 2.69 earned-run average), the Skipjacks have Jill Piasecki (9-7, 2.06 ERA) and Melanie Buck available to pitch.
Those three Skipjacks were also among the team’s best hitters. Leadoff hitter Wright led the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference in batting average (.525), stolen bases (30), and stolen base percentage (.968) after being caught just once, while Piasecki and Buck hit in the heart of the Skipjacks’ batting order.
"There are a lot of teams that would like to have their top three pitchers back," said Hayes.
Two Illinois teams are ranked in the top four. Defending national champion Heartland (Ill.) Community College, of Region XXIV, is ranked No. 1 after going 50-8 last season. Defending Region IV champion Kankakee (Ill.) Community College (46-11) is ranked fourth.
Phoenix (Ariz.) Community College which won five straight national championships between 2004 and 2008, went 57-11 last year and reached the 2009 national finals is ranked second. Lansing (Mich.) Community College, 54-5 a year ago, is third and Cowley County (Kan.) Community College rounds out the top five.
Chesapeake is the only Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference team to be ranked in any of the three NJCAA divisions. Cecil College, 24-21 last year and runner-up to Chesapeake in the Region XX tournament, did not make the preseason Division II Top 20 but was listed among "other schools receiving votes."
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