The Owens softball team opened its 2009 home season by sweeping a doubleheader over the Bowling Green State University club team, 8-0 and 11-1.
Local first-year players include catcher Christy Henneman (Lake); third baseman Lydia Eckel (Genoa); pitcher Aerica Susor (Genoa); and second baseman Jolynn Brossia (Genoa).
Owens has 11 players returning from last year’s championship team, including Danielle Hahn (Margaretta) and Melinda Johnson (Bellevue).
In 2008, Hahn, a sophomore outfielder, was named OCCAC Player of the Year. Her postseason accolades also included First Team OCCAC All-Conference and NJCAA All-Region XII, as well as the team’s Offensive Player of the Year award. She led the team with 48 hits, 16 stolen bases and a .429 batting average.
Johnson, a sophomore pitcher, compiled a 13-8 record, two saves and a 1.66 earned run average. Additionally, Johnson was a First Team OCCAC All-Conference and NJCAA All-Region XII selection and the OCCAC Pitcher of the Year. Her honors also included being named the team’s Most Improved Player award recipient.
Lanham’s squad also returns Katelyn Helminiak (Springfield), Amanda Hensley (Fremont St. Joe), catcher Lynsey McIntire (Eastwood), and Kayleigh Damron (Napoleon).
Helminiak, a sophomore first basemen, earned First Team OCCAC All-Conference and OCCAC Academic All-Conference honors and was named the recipient of the team’s Defensive Player of the Year award. She was the team leader with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs.
Hensley is a sophomore outfielder and was a First Team OCCAC All-Conference selection last year. She collected 33 hits, had 19 RBIs and compiled a .375 batting average.
Damron, a sophomore catcher, earned the team’s Heart of the Champion Award last year. She collected 13 hits and eight RBIs and compiled a .260 batting average.
The softball program is guided by sixth-year Head Coach Duane Lanham. His assistants are Michael Murphy and Kevin Snyder.
Express women’s softball completed the 2008 season with a 25-16 overall record and captured its sixth OCCAC (11-1 record) title in the program’s history. Owens was ranked No. 24 in the final NJCAA Division II poll and lost to Grand Rapids CC in the NJCAA Region XII Championships. The Express has captured three out of the last four OCCAC regular season championships (2005, 2006 and 2008).
Owens began its season on the road with games in Florida as part of the program’s annual spring break trip.
“I’m really looking forward to the upcoming season,” said Lanham. “We have great veteran leadership from our returning players who know how to win. The team also has a very talented group of first-year players who will definitely contribute to our success. I would expect our team to once again be in the title hunt for another OCCAC championship.”
The Express started 2-6 with wins over Pasco-Hernando CC (3-0) and St. John’s River CC (5-2). Losses were to Pasco-Hernando (9-2), Hillsborough CC (2-1, 8-0), St. John’s River (4-3), and Seminole CC (12-3, 4-1).
Since then, the Express swept the BGSU club team and improved to 5-7 after splitting with Macomb CC (losing 2-1 and winning 6-0).
Other returning sophomore student-athletes to the Owens team also include shortstop Rachel Sepesy (Ida, Mich.); third baseman Aimee Stranyak (Ida); outfielder Kristina Kruzel outfield (Perrysburg); first baseman Jessica Russell (Whitmer); and pitcher Kendall Kulakowski (Whitmer).
First-year players to the Express women’s softball program are catcher Haley Whitcomb (Perkins); shortstop Sasha Matyi (Maumee); pitcher Chelsea Lingenfelter (Lima Shawnee); outfielder Kiley Thornton (Ida); third baseman Allison Braun (Celina); second baseman Christine Zappone (Springfield); catcher Magan Gerding (Northview); outfielder Heather Whitcomb (Perkins); and third baseman Amanda Temple (Whitmer).