St. George, Utah -- Indian Hills won a pair of games at the NJCAA Division I National Championships to put an exclamation mark on a truly memorable season. When it won its opening game of the tourney -- against 5th-seeded Tyler (Texas) -- Indian Hills snapped a nine-game losing streak in the national event, winning 7-5. After a 10-4 loss to Angelina (Texas), the Warriors bounced back to win a slugfest against Chattanooga (Tenn.) State, 11-9, before bowing out with a 6-1 defeat to Wallace-Dothan (Ala.).
Indian Hills homered in every game at the Canyons Complex, slugging a total of nine, and broke the 100 barrier in home runs for the season. They wound up with 102, second only to the 1999 squad's total of 110. Chloe Olson went deep twice in both the IHCC wins and ended her year with 20. She became the third IHCC player to best the previous season record of 19 homers. Brooke Snider also had a home run in each of the victories and set the new school standard with 27. Macey Harrington added one to her total and ended up with 24. All three are freshmen.
The tourney started with the 13th-seeded Warriors upending number-five seed Tyler, avenging an early-season 3-2 loss and recording their 24th win in a row. Olson had quite a start to her national tourney experience, slamming a first-inning three-run homer to get the Warriors started. Snider had a three-run shot of her own in the 5th to make it 6-2. Olson's second bomb of the game came the following inning and IHCC withstood a late Tyler rally for the win. Alexis Groet scattered seven hits in picking up the victory.
After Angelina tallied a first-inning run in the next day's winner's bracket game, Harrington belted a two-run homer to center field to make it 2-1 IHCC. Angelina went on top 4-2 before a Snider sacrifice fly got the Warriors to within a run. But Angelina tacked on six more runs against Groet and Snider's run-scoring single in the 6th was the only other score for the Warriors.
That pushed Indian Hills into a must-win test against Chattanooga State and Olson and the Warriors responded. Olson had a two-run homer in the 3rd and a solo blast in the 4th. Snider and Alexis Westercamp also went deep. IHCC built a 10-2 lead after 3 1/2 innings, then had to hold on as Chattanooga plated seven runs over the final three innings. Jakala Hall started in the circle for the Warriors and worked into the 6th inning. Groet got the final five outs, four of them on strikeouts, to pick up the save.
A Westercamp solo home run in the 5th inning was the only run Indian Hills mustered against Wallace-Dothan as the season came to a close in the next contest. The Warriors were held to five hits, the Westercamp dinger and two singles each by Snider and Brittni Lloyd.
Lloyd was named to the all-tournament team for her 7-for-15 performance at the plate over four games. She scored four runs. A case could be made for Snider to be included with her teammate on the all-tourney team as she was also 7-for-15 with a pair of homers and six RBIs. Olson went 5-for-13 and four of her hits left the park.
The appearance in the national tournament capped a turnaround for an Indian Hills team that returned from its season-opening southern trip with a 3-8 record. From that point on the Warriors were 39-10 and captured the Region XI regular-season and post-season titles before sweeping number-nine rated Crowder (Mo.) in two games to add the district championshp.
The last national tourney win for Indian Hills had come in the 2004 event, when the Warriors wound up in 4th place. They had dropped both games in each of their last four visits to the tournament.
The Utah trip marked the end of their IHCC careers for four sophomores -- Jaylie Reints, Westercamp, Jordan Hollon and Vanessa Bakley. They were a part of Indian Hills teams that combined to go 88-30 the past two years.