For the second consecutive season, the Seward County Community College softball team has won the NJCAA Division I Region VI Softball Tournament. The Lady Saints won their back-to-back Region VI Championship this year in Colby, and became tournament champions by defeating Colby, the regular season District champion, twice in the two day tournament. Seward County swept their Region VI Tournament competition by defeating Barton County Community College 2-1 in nine innings in their opening game, defeating Colby 4-3 (eight innings) in the winners bracket final and then won the tournament by defeating Colby again, 2-0, in the championship game.

Seward County (37-20 overall) opened the tournament with a thrilling come from behind victory over Barton County. The Lady Saints trailed Barton 1-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. Kati Jo Gabaldon led off the inning with a single to center field and would later score on a controversial call at home plate to tie the score 1-1. In extra innings, Gabaldon led off the ninth inning with a walk and then scored the game winning run on an RBI single to left field from catcher, Kelsey Trout.

Becky Holland earned the opening game victory throwing a nine-inning complete game gem, allowing only four base hits and one run including striking out three Barton County batters.

In Seward County’s winner’s bracket game against Colby, the Lady Saints trailed the Lady Trojans 3-0, after Colby scored two runs in the first inning and recorded one run in the third inning with a solo home run coming off Lady Saints starting pitcher, Sarah Wittwer.

Seward County then gave the ball back to Holland in relief of Wittwer in the third, and Holland led SCCC over the next six innings as they were able to comeback and defeat the first place Lady Trojans in eight innings. Seward County once again came from behind and tied the score tallying three runs in the seventh inning, capped off by a two-run game tying single by Lady Saints designated player, Sarah Venegas. Seward County took the lead for good in the eighth frame on a solo home run by sophomore left fielder, Amanda McCue, who hit a lead-off blast for Seward County in the extra inning of play. Holland had no trouble with Colby in the bottom of the inning allowing just one runner to reach first base in their second victory of the tournament. Holland allowed only two hits and struck out two batters in her dominating relief outing, helping the Lady Saints to their first victory over Colby this season.

The second round win allowed Seward County to sit back and wait for the winner of Colby and Garden City to advance to the Championship Game to play Seward County who was the only unbeaten team left in the field of five teams.

Colby did advance back to play Seward after defeating Garden City, 2-1. The Championship Game was another close contest that remained scoreless until Gabaldon launched her 16th home run of the season in the second inning. The Lady Saints struck again in the fourth inning, scoring another run on a single to right field from Venegas to put SCCC in the lead, 2-0. That was all the run support Holland would need as she took over the game shutting down Colby in her complete-game seven inning shutout, where she yielded just three base hits and struck out four Colby batters.

Holland finished the tournament with a 3-0 record, pitching in 22 innings with a remarkable 0.32 earned run average (ERA). She struck out nine batters and allowed only one walk in three games pitched. Holland also had a standout 2005 Region VI Tournament when she went 4-0 with a 1.12 ERA in 25 innings pitched. In her Region VI Tournament career, Holland has posted a 7-0 record, 0.74 ERA, 18 strikeouts, three walks and allowed five earned runs in 47 innings of work on the mound.

The Lady Saints will now host the District C Playoff at Lady Saints Softball Field on Thursday, May 11 against the Region IX Champion, No. 10 Otero Junior College (48-8) in a best two-of-three series that will determine who will represent District C at the NJCAA Division I Softball National Championship, that will be held May 18-20, in Plant City, Florida.

The first two games of the playoff series against the Lady Rattlers are scheduled for 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Thursday with the “if necessary game” being scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on Friday.

Otero won the Region IX Tournament this year with wins over Lamar C.C. (9-8), Western Nebraska (4-3) and Western Nebraska in the Championship Game, 15-1.

The post-season match-up will be a familiar one for both programs as last season Seward County traveled to La Junta, Colorado, to play in their first ever District C Playoff against Otero J.C. The Lady Saints were defeated in three games last year, dropping game-one, 10-2, defeating Otero 5-1 in game-two and then losing the deciding game 11-7.

This year Seward and Otero played a non-conference doubleheader in La Junta, where Otero swept SCCC 11-4 and 7-5. The last time Otero and Seward County played in Liberal was on March 6 of last season when Otero defeated Seward County 4-3 and 11-0.