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 The Central Community College Raiders softball team recently wrapped up their season. The team had a successful season according to head coach and athletic director Jack Gutierrez. The team won the Region IX championship when they defeated Southeast Community College, but their season would eventually come to an end when they lost to Kirkwood Community College in the District G Playoffs.

Kirkwood is currently in the national tournament which takes place this week.

“They’re pretty good,” said Gutierrez. “It was a pretty tough task right from the start. They’re number five in the country. I think they’re 51-9 coming in. They’re an established program from over the years. They’ve got some pretty good recruits.”

The team set a major setback when their number one starting pitcher freshman Ashten Gibson was injured part way through the season.

“We didn’t hit the ball,” Gutierrez said. “Their pitching was better than ours. The thing that really impacted our end of the season, midway through April, we lost our number one pitcher to a thumb injury at North Platte.”

Despite finishing the season on a loss, Gutierrez is proud of his team this year and believes it was a good year.

“It was a good year,” Gutierrez said. “We finished 20-21. We left probably nine wins out there on rainouts. We had 11 games that we couldn’t get in because of the weather. For sure we probably would have won nine of those 11, but that’s just the way it goes … Winning the region is always big, because it’s basically instate.”

The team also found success in individual awards. CCC won every major individual award available for Region IX. Sophomore Danica Schafer won offensive player of the year, sophomore Mackenzie Eller won defensive player of the year, sophomore Katelyn Keene won pitcher of the year, and freshman Ashten Gibson won freshman of the year. All of them also made the all-region team along with Jenna Robinson who broke the CCC home run record this year by hitting 13 home runs, which surpassed the previous record of 10.

At the end of the year the words Gutierrez used to describe the season were “Competitive and team players”.

Gutierrez is already looking towards next season. The team lost six sophomores, but brings in 11 new freshmen that they’ve signed.  

“You always want to be as good or better than what you have so that’s what we do with recruiting," he said. "We always try to bring girls in that as good or better than what we’re losing or what we already have in place.”

Gutierrez is hoping to improve on what the team did this season, and believes his team can win the Region IX championship again.

“I think we’ll be good, we’re looking to hopefully win the region again," he said. I think we can do that it’s just a matter of our freshmen coming along.”

With the building success of Raiders softball, the community has much to look forward to in the next year of CCC softball.

Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for the Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at peter.huguenin@lee.net

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