Softball finishes 2016 as NJCAA Region XIV champs: Team ranked seventh in the nation
06.07.2016 | By Andrea Vasquez
The 2016 season proved to be one step closer to a national title for the San Jacinto College softball team as it ended the season as the 2016 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XIV champions and ranked seventh in the nation.
Finishing the season 38-25 overall and earning an automatic bid to the NJCAA national championship tournament, it was the third-ever national tournament appearance for San Jacinto College. The last national tournament appearance for San Jac was in 2014 when the team finished fifth in the nation.
This season also saw the pitching-catching sister force of Niki and Gabby Gonzalez. Niki, a freshman, served as the team’s lead pitcher with her sophomore sister Gabby as catcher. Gabby finished the regular season with 6 doubles, 1 triple and 10 homeruns. She also won the NJCAA National Softball Tournament Home Run Derby. Niki finished the regular season with 24 wins, 265 strikeouts and a team-best 1.86 ERA. She also received first team Midwest Region all-American honors from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA)
Along with the team’s Region XIV championship title, several players received all-Region, all-Conference and Region XIV all-Tournament honors. Gabby Gonzalez earned first team all-Region honors; second team all-Region honors went to Niki Gonzalez and freshman infielders Katlin Kerl and Tylor Office. First team all-Conference honors went to the Gonzalez sisters, Kerl and Office. Second team all-Conference honors went to freshmen outfielder Shelbi Doherty and utility Alexis DeLeon. Doherty, Kerl, Niki Gonzalez and freshman infielder Dani Damion earned a spot on the Region XIV all-Tournament team. Kerl received the Most Valuable Player award and Niki Gonzalez receiving the Most Valuable Pitcher award.
Earlier this year San Jacinto College Softball Head Coach Kelly Saenz was inducted into the Softball Canada Hall of Fame. Saenz was a member of the Smitty’s Midget girls’ division team in 1995 and 1996, being part of two out of three consecutive Canadian Championships. In 1995, while playing in nationals in White Rock, British Columbia, she was recruited to play at Eastern Kentucky University. After graduating in 1998, Saenz began her coaching career at Frank Phillips College in Borger, Texas for one season, then was hired at San Jacinto College where she has coached the softball team for 12 seasons.
The San Jac softball team will host tryouts on Saturday, June 11 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Pitchers and catchers will try out from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., and infield and outfield prospects will try out from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. All tryouts will take place at the San Jacinto College South Campus softball field located at 13735 Beamer Road in Houston. Participants are asked to register for tryouts with Assistant Softball Coach Kelsey Walters, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 281-998-6150 ext. 3524.
For more information on San Jacinto College softball, visit sanjacsports.com.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.