Lady Bobcat softball national championship tops JCJC year in sports
(The following is a press release from Jones County Junior College.)
ELLISVILLE – The first-ever softball national championship in school history highlights the 2017-18 year in athletics for Jones County Junior College.
The JCJC Lady Bobcats captured the NJCAA Division II title with an 18-2 victory over Phoenix College (Arizona) on May 22 at Traceway Park in Clinton. The win gave Jones an incredible 54-3 record for the season.
JCJC dominated women’s sports in the MACJC and Region 23 for the past year.
In addition to winning the national championship, the Lady Bobcats won the MACJC and Region 23 titles. Jones also won MACJC and Region 23 titles in women’s soccer, women’s basketball and women’s tennis – a clean sweep for the school.
Overall, Jones had a 175-56-2 record in all sports combined this past year – a .755 winning percentage.
The 2017-18 year in athletics was from July 1, 2017, until June 30, 2018.
JCJC won its final 21 games in a row to win the state, region and national titles.
They earned the state title with an 8-0, five-inning win over host Itawamba at Fulton on May 7. It was JCJC’s third straight state title and the fifth MACJC championship in six years.
Jones then whipped LSU-Eunice 10-0 in five innings on May 12 to win its third straight region title.
They swept the national tournament, winning five straight games in four days. Jones beat Potomac St. (West Virginia), 13-0 in five innings; Illinois Central, 10-2 in six innings; LSU-Eunice, 8-7; Phoenix, 20-1 in five innings and Phoenix again, 18-2, in the championship game.
Centerfielder Kelsha Loftin (Mendenhall) was named the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament and made the All-Tournament Team. Shortstop Taylor Murray (Parklane Academy) was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Defensive Player and made the All-Tournament Team along with pitchers Karli Perque (Westwego, Louisiana) and Madison Burge (Harrison Central) and third baseman Emily Robinson (Lafayette).
Loftin, Murray, Robinson, second baseman Callie Venable (Clinton, Louisiana), Perque, Burge and Hallie Donald (Mooreville) were named All-Region 23.
First baseman/pitcher McKennah Sikes (Van Buren, Arkansas), leftfielder Simone McKinney (Harrison Central) and rightfielder Gracie McCleskey (Caledonia) were named All-MACJC first-team. Catchers Faith Denton (Northwest Rankin) and Bailey Gilbert (Sylva-Bay Academy) and leftfielder Sarah Brock (North Pike) were named All-MACJC second-team.
Perque, Loftin and Emily Robinson were named NFCA All-Americans and were also NFCA All-South Region, along with Murray and Venable.
Loftin and Perque were named NJCAA Division II All-Americans.
The Lady Bobcats also had a 3.35 team GPA, which gave them NJCAA Honorable Mention Academic Team of the Year honors.
Head coach Chris Robinson was named Region 23 Coach of the Year and Coach of the National Tournament. Robinson, associate head coach Bob Herrington and assistant coach Katie Durham were named NFCA South Region Coaching Staff of the Year and NFCA National Coaching Staff of the Year.
Robinson is 391-96 (.802) in his nine seasons as head coach. Jones is 200-21 (.905) over the past four years.
Head coach Missy Bilderback’s Lady Bobcats enjoyed another outstanding season.
Jones ended the year 26-4 and won its second straight MACJC and Region 23 tourney championships. The Lady Bobcats also made its second straight appearance in the NJCAA Division I National Tournament in Lubbock, Texas. Jones entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed before falling to eventual runnerup Trinity Valley (Texas).
JCJC defeated Copiah-Lincoln 76-53 in Senatobia on March 1 to win the MACJC title. Jones beat Co-Lin 98-74 on March 9 at Mississippi College to capture the region championship. Guard Alexis Tolefree (Conway, Arkansas) scored 50 points in that game.
Tolefree and Nique Cherry (Heidelberg) were named All-Region 23 and made the All-Region 23 Tournament team. Tolefree and Cherry were named All-MACJC first-team and Chrystal Ezechukwu (Stone Mountain, Georgia) was named All-MACJC second-team.
Tolefree was named All-NJCAA second-team All-American and Cherry made All-NJCAA third-team All-American.
Ezechukwu and Kira Bonner (Quitman) participated in the MACJC All-Star Game.
Bilderback was named Region 23 and Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) Coach of the Year.
Bilderback has led JCJC to a 75-13 record (.852) in her three seasons as head coach.
Head coach Dolores Deasley’s Lady Bobcats won its second straight MACJC/Region 23 championship.
Jones upset previously undefeated and No. 16 Holmes 3-2 in the title game on Oct. 29 at Ridgeland. The Lady Bobcats advanced to the championship game by penalty kicks in the semifinals vs. Mississippi Gulf Coast. The game ended 1-1, but JCJC outscored MGCCC 4-3 in PKs.
No. 20 Jones ended the season by dropping a 4-0 decision to No. 4 Eastern Florida at home on Nov. 3 in the NJCAA District H playoffs.
Aimee Durn (Watford, England), Judith Verdaguer (Spain) and Angel Ryals (Brandon) were named All-Region 23. Mia Holmes (Brandon), Erica Gaddie (West Lauderdale), Anna Kate Howard (South Jones) and Mikayla Banks (Vicksburg) were named All-MACJC.
Holmes, Ryals and Verdaguer were named to the MACJC South All-Star team.
Durn was chosen as an NJCAA Division I Honorable Mention All-American.
The Lady Bobcats were also named MACJC Academic Team of the Year for women’s soccer after compiling a 3.47 GPA – tops in the state. That also earned them NJCAA Honorable Mention Academic Team of the Year honors.
Deasley was chosen as Region 23 Coach of the Year after leading Jones to a 9-3-2 record.
She has compiled a 126-31-5 record in 10 years as head coach, a .793 winning percentage.
Head coach Brooks Buffington guided the Lady Bobcats to the MACJC/Region 23 championship on April 21 in Meridian at Northeast Tennis Park.
Beth Owen (Stone) won the No. 3 singles title.
Jones then went to the NJCAA Division I National Tournament in Waco, Texas.
Mireia Jordan (Spain) won the No. 1 singles consolation round title. Kaylee McLaurin (Laurel Christian School) advanced to the finals of the No. 4 singles consolation round.
JCJC ended the tournament with 14 points and tied for 13th– the best finish ever in Division I for Jones. They were rated No. 15 in the final regular ITA poll.
Owen was named ITA Region III Most Improved Player of the Year at the national tournament banquet.
The Lady Bobcats also posted a 3.70 team GPA, which was second in the MACJC and third in the nation. That earned them NJCAA Honorable Mention Academic Team of the Year honors.
Buffington was named NJCAA Region 23, MAC and the ITA Region III Coach of the Year.
JCJC was 15-3 this past season and is 24-8 (.750) in Buffington’s two seasons as head coach.
Baseball Head coach Chris Kirtland’s Bobcats enjoyed another excellent season.
Jones finished the season with a 38-11 record and was ranked in the top five for most of the season. They finished No. 15 in the final NJCAA Division II poll
The Bobcats finished second in the MACJC and advanced to postseason play for the 10thconsecutive year. They were eliminated in the opening round best-of-3 series by Hinds.
Pitcher Will Freeman (Semmes, Alabama) was named All-Region 23 and All-MACJC. He was also drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 36th round.
Luther Woullard (D’Iberville) and Tyler Spring (Stone) were named All-MACJC first-team. Cooper Brune (Ocean Springs), Trace Henry (Mooreville) and Jake Mason (West Lauderdale) were named All-MACJC second-team.
Jones also had a 3.31 team GPA, earning them NJCAA Honorable Mention Academic Team of the Year honors.
The Bobcats have posted a 138-24 record in Kirtland’s three seasons as head coach, an .851 winning percentage.
Football Head coach Steve Buckley’s Bobcats went 8-2 and won the MACJC South Division in 2017.
Jones dropped a 24-20 decision to eventual national champion East Mississippi in the first round of the playoffs. Both of JCJC’s losses were to EMCC.
Center Andrew Smith (Prentiss), running back Scott Phillips (South Jones) and punter Taylor Wallace (Jackson Prep) were named All-Region 23 and All-MACJC South first-team.
Wide receiver Kendall Parham (Oak Grove), defensive end Brandon Young (West Jones), linebacker Derric Hawthorn (Collins) and defensive back Fred Peters (Columbia) were named All-MACJC South first-team.
Tight end Chancie Tidwell (Clinton), offensive linemen Dylan Desper (Madison Central) and Colby Ragland (Raymond), defensive tackle Jordan Beaton (Harrison Central) and defensive back Travis Reed (Meridian) were named All-MACJC South second-team.
Buckley was named MACJC South Division and MAC Coach of the Year. He is 14-5 in two seasons as JCJC head coach.
Men’s basketball In Randy Bolden’s first season as head coach, the Bobcats posted a 12-11 overall record and finished 7-7 in MACJC South Division play.
JCJC’s Shemar Johnson (New Hope) participated in the MACJC All-Star Game and scored 19 points for the South team.
Men’s soccer Head coach Brendan Connolly’s team went 6-8-1 in his second season as head coach.
Glenn Waters (Dungarvan, Ireland) was named All-MACJC.
John Andrew Hawkins (Cleveland) and Michael Godley (Starkville) were chosen for the MACJC All-Star Game.
Men’s tennis Buffington’s team posted a 7-11 record this season and finished fifth in the MACJC/Region 23 Tournament.
The Bobcats were rated No. 21 in the final ITA regular season poll.
Jones had a 3.15 GPA which earned them NJCAA Honorable Mention Academic Team of the Year honors.
Jones County Junior College 2017-18 Record in Athletics
Sport Record Softball 54-3 Women’s Basketball 26-4 Women’s Tennis 15-3 Football 8-2 Baseball 38-11 Women’s Soccer 9-3-2 Men’s Basketball 12-11 Men’s Soccer 6-8 Men’s Tennis 7-11 ----------------------------------- Total 175-56-2 (.755)