Former high school softball teammates compete in top junior college eventBy Staff Reports Published 9:00am Friday, May 23, 2014
By Whitney Denson
Two former Chilton County High School softball players continued to shine on the softball diamond as they competed in the National Junior College Athletic Association National Tournament with Southern Union Community College May 14-16.
Brianna Cleckler is a 2012 graduate of CCHS and a freshman at Southern Union.
Cleckler earned 24 wins and 116 strikeouts as a starting pitcher for the Lady Bison this season.
Lauren Stewart is also a 2012 graduate of CCHS and a sophomore at Southern Union. Stewart played first base and appeared as a designated hitter, earning a .325 batting average and a .438 on-base percentage for the season.
Southern Union went into the National Tournament with a 58-10 record after earning the state title in the District O, Region 22 Championship.
The Lady Bison traveled to St. George, Utah for the National Tournament to begin playing on Wednesday, May 14. Southern Union lost their first game 7-6 in extra innings to Angelina, the team who ultimately won the tournament.
Thursday, the Lady Bison began fighting through the loser’s bracket, beginning with a 7-2 win over Southern Idaho. Cleckler got the win for Southern Union with three strikeouts, allowing five hits.
Southern Union continued to rally on Thursday with an 8-0 win over Arizona Western.
Friday, the Lady Bison kept their winning streak going with a close win over North Central Texas College.
Then, Cleckler got the win over San Jacinto College-South in just five innings on the mound, striking out two and allowing seven hits.
Southern Union’s fight for the national title came to an end Friday afternoon after a 10-3 loss against Chattanooga State Community College. Southern Union finished in the top four teams of the tournament.
Cleckler had eight appearances on the mound and averaged five strikeouts per game in post-season conference games.
“We worked for that state title from the first practice,” said Cleckler. “When we made it to nationals, it was an indescribable feeling and something I’ve worked for all of my life.”
Stewart had eight hits, four of them RBI, in post-season conference games.
“The most memorable moment from the tournament was when we came back to beat a team from Texas and ended up run-ruling them,” said Stewart. “We put in the work on and off the field every day. This will be a year I never forget.”
Cleckler has one more year with Southern Union and then plans on applying to a radiology program and possibly continuing to play softball at a four-year college.
Stewart will continue her softball career at Spring Hills College for the next two years.