TJC softball

The TJC softball team begins play in the NJCAA Division I National Tournament on Wednesday in St. George, Utah.

TJC Athletics/Photo

The Tyler Junior College softball team has accomplished many things in its five years of existence.

The Apache Ladies have earned four straight trips to the national tournament, but they added something new to their trophy case on Thursday — a regional championship.

After finishing second in the region the last three years, TJC is the Region XIV Tournament champion.

Courtnie Heller and Brooke Makemson belted home runs and Abbie Dart held the Angelina bats to six hits as the Apache Ladies won the regional championship with a 6-3 victory over the Lady Roadrunners at Larry Phillips Family Sports Complex on the Angelina College campus in Lufkin.

Region XIV receives two bids to nationals, thus both TJC and AC will be competing in the NJCAA Division I National Softball Tournament on May 22-25 in St. George, Utah.

The last three years TJC had finished second in the region — 2016 to San Jacinto-South; 2017 to San Jacinto-South and 2018 to Galveston College.

This year, the Apache Ladies (57-17), led by third-year coach Maria Winn-Ratliff, were unbeaten in the tournament, knocking off Coastal Bend (9-0), San Jacinto-South (10-0) and Angelina twice (5-3, 6-3). The only two losses for Angelina (40-11) came to TJC.

Heller, a sophomore from Thornton, Colorado, got the Apache Ladies going in the first with a two-run homer, while Makemson, a sophomore from Frisco, topped the game off with a two-run homer in the seventh that gave Dart (17-1) some insurance runs.

Dart struck out one and walked one while allowing three runs.

Tanjala Smith, Maleah Olvera, Kaycee Parker and Destinee Dixon each had two hits for the Apache Ladies. Sloane Johnson also had a single for TJC. Olvera added an RBI. Smith scored three runs with one each from Heller, Allie White and Makemson.

Riley Garrett and Kaylee Ancelot hit home runs for Angelina. Ancelot, who had a two-run homer in the first, also had a single as did Nikki Whitehead, Emilee Cernosek and Jessica Husband. Whitehead was on base when Ancelot went deep.

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Region XIV Softball Championship

Tyler JC 6, Angelina 3

TJC 202 000 2 — 6 11 0

AC  210 000 0 — 3   6 3

TJC: Abbie Dart and Destinee Dixon.

AC: Shelby Mixon and Makayla Rodger.

W — Dart (17-1), L — Mixon (15-4).

HR — TJC: Courtnie Heller (first, one on), Brooke Makemson (seventh, one on). AC: Kaylee Ancelot (first, one on), Riley Garrett (second, solo).

RECORDS — Tyler JC 57-17, Angelina 40-11. 

TWITTER: @PhilHicksETFS

Sports Editor

I am a native Tylerite and I grew up reading the Tyler Morning Telegraph and The Tyler Courier-Times. My parents took both the morning and afternoon papers. I came to work here 35 years ago at the age of 23, right after college.

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