Article, 2008 Season - Women's Softball

Ohlone enjoying magical season

Renegades head into state playoffs after going 24-0 in conference

By Steve R. Waterhouse, Staff writer.

Friday, May 2, 2008—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

FREMONT—Of the Ohlone College softball team's 10 Coast Conference North titles, none was as special as the one earned this year.

The Renegades' sixth conference title in a row came in a season in which coach Donna Runyon recorded her 700th career victory at Ohlone. Moreover, the Renegades posted the best conference record in school history—24-0—also going 38-7 overall.

"I would say this group makes for a great year," Runyon said. "They all get along and that chemistry is magical."

That all-important word, chemistry. Ohlone has it, big-time. Runyon also introduced a new philosophy to her sophomores—one that will likely stick around for a while.

"We set the tone early in the season with a leadership book and a 10-week class that the sophomores had to attend every Wednesday," Runyon said. "We went over the book and looked for problems to be solved. We looked at how to communicate. It's a problem-solver book.

"I decided to involve every sophomore in this and got away from choosing two to three captains. I think we all have something to offer. Some are vocal and some lead by example."

Runyon is hoping that will help guide this year's Ohlone team deep in the state playoffs. On Saturday, No. 5 seed Ohlone plays host to No. 12 Solano in a best-of-3 series that begins at 2 p.m. Play resumes Sunday with a game at noon and, if necessary, a game at 2 p.m.

Clearly, Runyon's leadership course hit its target. "There were lot of tips in there," second baseman Kassandra Winger said. "There were leaders from different sports, and that has all helped the sophomores get together and bond with the freshmen. It helped us connect."

Winger has been quite productive batting third in the lineup. Named MVP Player for the Coast Conference North, Winger hit .519 (.542 in conference) with a .763 slugging percentage and a .565 on-base percentage. She led the team in hits (68), doubles (23) and RBIs (53).

Fab freshman right-hander Kelly Colker, a Newark Memorial graduate, was named the conference MVP Pitcher. She went 24-6 (16-0 in conference) with 191 strikeouts and a mere 24 walks and hand a 1.67 ERA (0.79 in conference).

The Renegades know they have a tough road ahead. They are facing a familiar team in Solano, which beat Ohlone 11-9 on Feb. 16. It was Ohlone's second straight loss after falling to Siskiyous 2-1 earlier in the day. Those losses came four days before conference began.

"I wanted to see how they were going to respond," Runyon said. "That was a wake-up call. We started conference that week, and we seemed to have bounced back from that. There's not a lot of difference from our nine starters to the 15th player on this team, and I think they know that. I told them from the beginning that everyone is going to have a part in us winning games this year."

Ohlone atoned for that loss to Solano, when it beat the Falcons 7-4 on March 15 and again on March 30, 8-2.

The Renegades are one of the more dangerous teams in the playoffs. They have a team ERA of 1.61 and a batting average of .367 to go along with 158 stolen bases.

"This team is explosive on offense," Runyon said.

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