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Behind the leadership of head coach Jayne Clem, the Wallace State fast pitch softball program is a national champion on the field and in the classroom. Wallace State softball won its second National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I National Championship during the 2013 season, adding to the first crown the program won in 2008. The Lady Lions were also national runner-up on two other occasions (2009 and 2010) and third in 2012.
Wallace State held its own as the defending national champion in 2014, finishing with a 44-26 record and earning its ninth consecutive Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) Northern Division title.
Sophomores Kori Benson and Madeline Lee, the lone returners in the starting lineup from the national championship team, led the way for Wallace State throughout the 2014 season, both earning a spot on the All-ACCC/Region 22 first team. Benson was also named a NJCAA 2nd-team All-American in 2014 after leading the Lady Lions in batting average and home runs. She hit a team-high .445 with 15 home runs and 50 RBIs and also added 11 doubles and a .787 slugging percentage. Benson, an Oak Grove native, battled back trouble all season, yet still produced at the plate, and leaves as the program's leader in home runs for a career (38) and single season (23). Benson was also a key reason Wallace State won the 2013 national championship. As a freshman, Benson hit .352 with 23 homers and 69 RBIs and was named the ACCC/Region 22 tournament MVP, a NFCA All-American and the 2013 NJCAA national tournament defensive MVP.
Lee was just as vital to Wallace State's success during her two seasons. Lee, who also battled injuries in 2014, finished her sophomore campaign with a .417 average, 12 home runs and 55 RBIs. She also led the Lady Lions with a team-high 23 doubles. As a freshman, the Lady Lions’ second baseman hit .385 with nine homers, 37 RBIs, 15 doubles, 19 steals and a .428 on base percentage and was an all-tournament selection at the national tournament in St. George, Utah.
Wallace State had strong contributions from a trio of freshmen in the lineup. Catcher Andrea McKenzie, a 2nd-team All-ACCC North Division selection, hit .369 with eight homers and a team-high 66 RBIs and hit a three-run, walk-off homer against Calhoun on April 22, which eventually ultimately the division title for the Lady Lions.
Infielder Mackenzie Hill hit .343 with eight homers and 37 RBIs during her first season in Hanceville, and shortstop Isabella Campbell finished the season hitting .341 with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs.
Wallace State's pitching staff was brand new in 2014. Amanda Medders went 17-12 with a 2.51 ERA. She made 25 starts and threw 16 complete games. Rachel Ragland finished with a 19-10 record and a 2.92 ERA in 38 games, including 30 starts. Misty Doran was 6-5 with a 1.86 ERA in nine games.
Medders was named to the All-ACCC/Region 22 first team, while Ragland was selected as a second-team member.
As division champs, Wallace State earned a No. 1 seed at the ACCC/Region 22 tournament and won a pair of games before falling in the semis. The Lady Lions finished third in the state and fell short of making the national tournament for only the third time since 2003.
Sophomores on the 2014 team were Benson, Lee, Sabrina Russell, Ashleigh McClure and Annie Holcomb.
Jeff Benson was a first-year assistant for Wallace State in 2014.
Fast pitch softball at Wallace State dates back to 1997 and has been led by Coach Clem since 1999. Clem is committed to a winning tradition at Wallace State, and that drive is evident in her teams' accomplishments.
Clem surpassed the 700 career win milestone in 2013 and maintains a 761-203 (.789 winning percentage) career record after 15 seasons with the program. She has been named ACCC Coach of the Year 11 times (2013, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003 and 2002) and has helped the school win eight conference championships (2013, 2012, 2010-2007, 2005, 2003) in addition to its 2008 and 2013 national crowns.
Since Wallace State won its first national championship in 2008, the Lady Lions have finished no worse than third upon advancing to the NJCAA tournament. During a dominant three-year run to the NJCAA Division I title game (2008-10), the program compiled a 193-27 record (68-8 in 2008, 63-10 in 2009 and 62-9 in 2010), captured three ACCC championships and produced six combined NJCAA 1st-Team All-Americans.
Wallace State put together a dominant postseason in 2013, en route to its second NJCAA national title. The Lady Lions breezed through the ACCC/Region 22 state tournament undefeated before advancing to the NJCAA national tournament in St. George, Utah. The Lady Lions, an No. 8 seed, won five of six games at the national tourney and defeated Salt Lake City (Utah) CC by a 7-3 score in the championship game. Wallace State, which knocked off the No. 1, 2 and 5 seeds en route to the title, clubbed eight homers in the tournament and scored 33 runs in six games.Wallace State's Katie Gentle and BreeAnna Blevins each earned NJCAA First-Team All-American recognition in 2013, while Benson, Gentle, Lindsey DeFee and Blevins earned NFCA All-American nods.
Wallace State finished the 2013 season with a 55-12 record and advanced to the national tournament after going a perfect 4-0 at the ACCC/Region 22 state tournament in Alabaster. Benson was named state tournament MVP and Katie Gentle, DeFee, Blevins, Paige Rowland and Libby Olinger were All-Tournament team selections. The state title marked the Lady Lions second in a row, sixth in seven seasons and eighth overall.
Clem, an Athens native, and Tracy Grindrod were named the NFCA NJCAA Division I Coaching Staff of the Year in 2010 and 2008, and Clem was also named the Karen L. Sykes Outstanding Coach of the National Tournament in 2008 and 2013.
Wallace State's softball team has excelled academically as well. The team finished with a 3.68 grade point average for the 2009-10 academic year after posting a 3.72 GPA as the 2008-09 NJCAA Academic Team of the Year.
For more information, contact Coach Clem at 256-352-8355 or email at Jayne.Clem@WallaceState.edu.