Cougars reach new heights for program
The Lehigh Carbon Community College softball team did something this season that no other Cougar team had accomplished in the program’s history.
Plenty of local softball players were at the center of the memorable campaign.
LCCC became the first team ever from Pennsylvania to win the Region XIX Championship. The Cougars also advanced to the Division III NJCAA National Championship Tournament for the first time and won a game before their season came to a close in mid-May.
“Our run at nationals was hands down the most amazing and rewarding experience,” former Northwestern player Lydia Danner said. “A bunch of us, myself included, had never flown before our Minnesota trip, so that alone was so fun to be able to do together.
“We went there knowing that we had a job to do and goals to fulfill, but regardless of what would happen our main focus was to just have fun and soak in every moment.”
A year after Rowan County defeated LCCC in the same regional championship round, the Cougars reversed the tides this season. LCCC won the first two games of a best-of-three series to make history and advance to the national tournament.
The Cougars’ offense exploded for eight runs in the 8-5 Game 1 victory. Then, in a pitcher’s duel, Bailey Pedersen pitched a complete game shutout for her 14th win of the season and a 5-0 victory.
“These are the biggest accomplishments for any sport in LCCC history, so it means everything and more,” Danner said. People who I know or know that I played for LCCC this past season are still coming up and congratulating me on a great season. It is awesome to know how much the community was and is still involved in what we accomplished. It is something that will be talked about for a while, and I’m so thankful to say that I was part of it.”
After a 6-5 win against Monroe Community College in New York in the first round of nationals, the Cougars’ first ever win at that level, LCCC dropped its next three games.
The Cougars then fell to No. 1 seed Herkimer CCC from NY (5-1), No. 6 North Dakota SCS (5-1) and Brookdale CC (4-2) to place sixth in the country.
“There are so many things that we accomplished throughout the season which makes it so hard to single out one specifically,” said Danner. “But from the very beginning we wanted to make it known to every team we played that we were a force to be reckoned with. We wanted to show others that we were in it every game, but we knew that we needed to stay humble, work hard and focus.”
A total of six Cougars were named to the All-Region Team, led by Danner, the Region XIX Player of the Year and Region XIX Tournament MVP. Pedersen was named the Region XIX Pitcher of the Year.
“In all my years of softball, this is the strongest team chemistry I have ever been a part of,” Danner said. “We all got along, talked in our group chat outside of practices and games, goofed off with each other in practice and communicated well on the field. It took some time for us to all get used to one another, but after our first couple of games we played as if we had been playing together forever.”
LCCC finished 25-10 overall and 8-2 in conference play.