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June 1, 2006

2009 Season - 2006 Softball Review

Vikings win CCIW title, finish 33-10 and advance to NCAA Playoffs; Erin Daniels wins conference MVP award; Daniels and Lorena Cernetisch both named to NCAA Division III All-America team

With one swing of the bat Erin Daniels (Dwight HS, Dwight, Ill.) made herself a legend. Already one of the best players to ever wear a Viking softball uniform, what Daniels did on a sunny afternoon in early May will forever be part of the folklore that is part of the history of the Augustana athletic department.

The scenario played out like this. Augustana, by virtue of winning the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin regular season with a record of 13-1, was hosting the league tournament. The Vikings already had the CCIW title but they also wanted the automatic berth that goes to the winner of the post-season tournament. On Saturday afternoon, May 6, head coach Kris Kistler’s team was playing Illinois Wesleyan in the championship game. Augustana had defeated North Central (7-4) and Millikin (6-0) on Friday, May 5 and was 2-0 in the tournament. The Titans had a loss on Friday to Millikin and needed to win two games over the Vikings in order to claim the automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.

For a long time it looked as if Wesleyan was going to force a second game. The Titans used a first inning home run from Ashley Deck to stake a 2-0 lead against Augustana's Jenna Szybowicz (Glenbard North HS, Carol Stream, Ill.) and Wesleyan pitcher Katie Frawley had allowed just three hits through six innings. In the seventh she got one out and Lorena Cernetisch (Erie HS, Erie, Ill.) ripped a double to left. Kim Rymer (Vernon Hills HS, Vernon Hills, Ill.) then followed with an infield single and when the ball got away at first, Cernetisch scored and Rymer went to second. Cammie Bourlet (Farmington HS, Farmington, Ill.) then lined a double to left and Rymer came home with the tying run.

Szybowicz set Wesleyan down in order in the bottom of the seventh and Daniels led off the top of the eighth. Just hours earlier there was doubt whether she would even play, as she was sick with the flu. Obviously not feeling very well, she was playing on guts and determination and between innings she quietly sat on the bench conserving what little energy she had. Wesleyan made a pitching change and brought in Valerie Hackett to relieve Frawley and Daniels took full advantage. She rifled a pitch to the opposite field, clearing the right field fence for a solo home run to lead off the eighth. That was all the edge Szybowicz needed as she closed out the game for the 3-2 victory that put the Vikings into the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years.

It was fitting that Daniels would supply the heroics as she was the season-long catalyst for a Viking team that would eventually finish the year 33-10 overall. During a stretch from April 1 until May 11, Augustana won 21 of 23 games and as the leadoff hitter in a power packed lineup, she was usually in the middle of the action. Daniels hit .459 with 61 hits in 133 at-bats while scoring 49 runs with 11 doubles, one triple, eight home runs and 30 runs-batted-in. She walked 18 times and stole 10 bases and was the unquestioned team leader. She was named “Player of the Year” in the CCIW after earning first team all-conference honors for the second year in a row and her teammates voted her the team’s MVP. She capped it all off by being named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association NCAA Division III All-American team as a first teamer at second base.

Daniels hit .378 during her career with 166 hits in 439 at-bats while scoring 124 runs with 32 doubles, five triples, 12 home runs, 62 RBI, 41 base-on-balls and 41 stolen bases. Daniels holds the single season school record for at-bats (151 in 2004) and runs scored (49 in 2006). She is the career record holder for doubles with 32 and she is in the top 10 in nine offensive categories. Besides owning the record for doubles, she is second in runs scored (124), third in home runs (11), fourth in at-bats (439) and hits (166), sixth in base-on-balls (41) and batting average (.378), seventh in stolen bases (41) and 10th in RBI (62).

A program that has posted 30 victories in each of the last three seasons (the Vikings are a sterling 102-31 since 2004) obviously does not revolve around one player and that was certainly the case for Augustana in 2006. Cernetisch, who claimed the shortstop position early in the campaign, was also named to the NFCA NCAA Division III All-American team. A third team selection, Cernetisch was a first team all-conference pick and she set a new league record for batting average with a  mark of .658 with 25 hits in 38 at-bats in CCIW play. She broke the old record of .610 (25-41) previously held by Megan Weber of Carthage in 1996. Cernetisch batted .455 overall with 56 hits in 123 at-bats while scoring 34 runs with 17 doubles, six triples, two home runs, 31 RBI, six walks and 13 stolen bases. Her 17 doubles is a new Augustana single season school record and her 56 hits is the third highest total in Viking history.

Augustana cleaned up when it came to awards as a total of eight players made the all-conference team. Daniels, Cernetisch, Szybowicz, third baseman Samantha Knox (United Township HS, East Moline, Ill.), Bourlet, Rymer and pitcher Alissa Shaner (Moline HS, Moline, Ill.) were all first team picks while centerfielder Tara Gimmler (Glenbard East HS, Glen Ellyn, Ill.) made it as a second team selection. While Daniels was the “Player of the Year in the CCIW”, Szybowicz was the “Pitcher of the Year” and Cernetisch was the “Batter of the Year”. In addition, Kistler and her assistants (Leann Barber, Dave Hebbeln, John Brokaw and Danielle Clarizio) were named collectively as the “Coaching Staff of the Year”. Kistler had been the CCIW’s “Coach of the Year” in 2000 and again in 2004.

Daniels, Cernetisch, Szybowicz and Knox were all named first team all-region by the NFCA and Rymer was a second team choice.

The Augustana offense went on a power surge in 2006, shattering the old team records for hits, doubles and home runs. The Vikings collected 369 hits, breaking the previous mark of 354 from 2004 while the 71 doubles this season took down the record of 67 from 1996. The home run total of 29 absolutely shattered the 19 set just one year earlier by the 2005 team.

As a team Augustana hit .324 and averaged 6.7 runs per game. Besides the one-two punch of Daniels and Cernetisch, three other players hit over .300. Rymer batted .388 with 45 hits in 116 at-bats with 38 runs scored, four doubles, three triples, nine home runs, 44 RBI, nine walks and 30 stolen bases. Rymer’s nine home runs is a new school record, breaking the old mark of six set by Heidi Hallstrom in 2003 and her 44 RBI ties her with Samantha Knox, who accomplished it this year as well. Knox held the record prior to this season with 31 in 2004. Knox batted .385 with 52 hits in 135 at-bats while scoring 28 runs with 13 doubles, five home runs and 44 RBI. Rightfielder Molly McLean (Andrew HS, Tinley Park, Ill.) batted .333 with 37 hits in 111 at-bats with 32 runs scored, seven doubles, three triples, one home run and 19 RBI.

While the offense obviously did its part, the pitching staff was also tremendous. Szybowicz took over as the number one starter just prior to the opening of the CCIW campaign and she went 16-2 with a 1.12 earned run average in 106 2/3 innings of work. She made 24 appearances, 16 as a starter, with seven complete games and she struck out 93 while walking just 33. Opponents batted just .203 (79-390) against her. Shaner has always been a steady performer inside the circle and she proved so again in 2006. She was 14-5 with a 1.50 earned run average in 125 2/3 innings of work with 23 appearances, 20 of those starts. She struck out 86 and walked just 23 and opponents hit only .249 (120-482) against her offerings.

This was a team that just refused to accept the status quo. After giving up 33 runs in their first four games of the season, the Vikings settled in and allowed only 32 over the next 14. After coming back from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on March 25 after losing three straight in the Coe Tournament, Kistler’s bunch was 10-5 overall. From that point until dropping two consecutive games in the NCAA Division III tournament to end the year, Augustana won 23 of its next 29 games. The Blue and Gold won the CCIW title and advanced to the NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional for the second time in the last three years.

In addition, the senior class of Daniels, Gimmler, Whitney Menold (Morton HS, Morton, Ill.), Jenny Westergren (St. Charles East HS, St. Charles, Ill.) and Mallory Sokolnik (Addison Trail HS, Addison, Ill.) completed their collective careers with an overall record of 128-45 for a winning percentage of .740. In conference play they helped the Vikings go 43-13 (.768) and win two league titles (2004 & 06), finish second once (2005) and fourth once (2003). There were also NCAA Division III playoff appearances in 2004 and 2006 and myriad numbers of school records and post-season awards.

Kistler finished her seventh season as the head coach of the Vikings, having assumed the controls just prior to the start of the 1999-00 school year. She has compiled a record of 208-95-2 overall in seven seasons and her teams have won over 30 games on four separate occasions, including the last three years in a row. In CCIW play Augustana is 66-32 under Kistler and has won two conference championships, finished second once, third once and fourth three times. She needs just 17 wins next season to become the winningest softball coach in Viking history, surpassing the mark of Diane Schumacher, who was 225-263-1 from 1985-99. With one year at Plattsburgh State (NY), Kistler is 217-105-2 as a collegiate head coach.

Daniels was named the team’s MVP in 2006 and she shared the “Best Offensive Player” honor with Cernetisch. Bourlet was tabbed as the “Most Improved Player” and Sokolnik was the winner of the “Viking Award”.

2006 College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin Final Standings

TEAM

W

L

.PCT

W

L

.PCT

AUGUSTANA

13

1

.929

33

10

.767

Illinois Wesleyan

12

2

.857

32

12

.727

Millikin

8

6

.571

24

17

.585

North Central

7

7

.500

26

16

.619

Wheaton

6

8

.429

20

19

.513

Elmhurst

6

8

.429

19

29

.500

Carthage

3

11

.214

14

22

.389

North Park

1

13

.071

16

24

.400

2006 CCIW Softball Tournament Results

Carver Field *** Augustana College *** Rock Island, Illinois

Friday, May 5

Game 1: Millikin 3, Illinois Wesleyan 2

Game 2: Augustana 7, North Central 4

Game 3: Illinois Wesleyan 5, North Central 1 (North Central eliminated)

Game 4: Augustana 6, Millikin 0

Saturday, May 6

Game 5: Illinois Wesleyan 7, Millikin 0 (Millikin eliminated)

Game 6: Augustana 3, Illinois Wesleyan 2 (8 innings) – Augustana wins CCIW tournament and automatic NCAA tournament bid

CCIW Point Total for NCAA Division III Automatic Bid

TEAM

REGULAR SEASON POINTS

TOURNAMENT POINTS

TOTAL POINTS

Augustana

13

4

17

Illinois Wesleyan

12

2

14

Millikin

8

1

9

North Central

7

0

7

Wheaton

6

0

6

Elmhurst

6

0

6

Carthage

3

0

3

North Park

1

0

1

 

2006 Augsustana softball superlatives

NCAA Division III All-American: Erin Daniels – 2B (first team as selected by National Fastpitch Coaches Association)

NCAA Division III All-American: Lorena Cernetisch – SS (third team as selected by National Fastpitch Coaches Association)

ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District: Samantha Knox – 3B

NCAA Division III All-Great Lakes Region: (First team) Erin Daniels – 2B…Lorena Cernetisch – SS…Samantha Knox – 3B…Jenna Szybowicz – P…(Second team) Kim Rymer – OF.

CCIW Team Champions: 13-1 record in conference play for second league title in three years

CCIW Tournament Champions: 3-0 record in CCIW tournament on May 5-6 at Carver Field

NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional: Third NCAA Division III post season appearance in school history (1996-04-06)

CCIW MVP: Erin Daniels

CCIW Batter of the Year: Lorena Cernetisch

CCIW Pitcher of the Year: Jenna Szybowicz

CCIW Coaching Staff of the Year: Kris Kistler, Leann Barber, Dave Hebbeln, John Brokaw & Danielle Clarizio

CCIW All-Conference: (First team) Jenna Szybowicz – P…Erin Daniels – 2B…Lorena Cernetisch – SS…Samantha Knox – 3B…Cammie Bourlet – C…Kim Rymer, OF…Alissa Shaner – P/At-Large…(Second team) Tara Gimmler – OF

CCIW Record – Highest Batting Average in Single Season: Lorena Cernetisch at .658 (25-38), breaking old mark of .610 by Megan Weber of Carthage in 1996

CCIW Team Statistical categories won by Augustana: Lowest ERA – 0.83…Highest fielding percentage - .973

CCIW Individual Statistical Categories won by Augustana: Highest batting average - .658 by Lorena Cernetisch…Lowest ERA – 0.39 by Alissa Shaner…Stolen bases – 9 by Kim Rymer…Most strikeouts by pitcher – 44 by Jenna Szybowicz

CCIW “Players of the Week”: Lorena Cernetisch on 04/11/06…Kim Rymer on 04/25/06

Auustana Team Awards

Most Valuable Player: Erin Daniels

Best Offensive Player: Erin Daniels & Lorena Cernetisch

Best Defensive Player: Tara Gimmler

Most Improved Player: Cammie Bourlet

Viking Award: Mallory Sokolnik

School Record - Most Hits in Single Season by Team: 369, breaking old mark of 354 in 2004

School record - Most Doubles in Single Season by Team: 71, breaking old mark of 67 in 1996

School Record - Most Home Runs in Single Season by Team: 29, breaking old mark of 19 in 2005

School Record - Most Runs in Single Season by Individual: 49 – Erin Daniels, breaking old mark of 43 by Daniels in 2004

School Record - Most RBI in Single Season by Individual: 44 – Samantha Knox and Kim Rymer, breaking old mark of 31 by Joyce Kornacki in 1988 and Samantha Knox in 2004

School Record - Most Doubles in Single Season by Individual: 17 by Lorena Cernetisch, breaking old mark of 16 by Cassandra Hallstrom in 2002

School Record - Most Home Runs in Single season by Individual: 9 by Kim Rymer, breaking old mark of 6 by Heidi Hallstrom in 2003

School Record - Most Doubles in Career: 32 (2003-06) by Erin Daniels, tying old mark of 32 by Heidi Hallstrom from 2002-05