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On The Rise

Sep 21, 2012
by Tom Iacuzio, '06

Softball reaches national championship this year thanks to competitive drive

Flagler College softball made its first appearance at the NCAA Div. II National Championship in May, an accomplishment made even more impressive by the fact that the team has only been around since 2009.

“We have had a tremendous amount of growth in the program since our first season,” said head coach Kristen Overton, who has led the team since it began play. “At the beginning of every season, I know that we are going to be good based on the talent that we will have, but at this level every team is good.”

Overton says what differentiates her girls from other teams is the work ethic and competitive drive to improve. That has led to team camaraderie and in turn creates a winning environment. But the hardest part of her job is creating a culture within the program that the players are proud of and committed to.

“One of the challenges that you face is getting the new players to buy in to our purpose,” said Overton. “But the success of getting all the team members on the same page has typically come from the leadership of the returning players.”

The Saints advanced to the quarterfinals of the national tournament, but were knocked out by Lenoir-Rhyne University. Flagler finished its season at 39-20.

Overton has amassed a record of 127-91 at Flagler, finding success by blending four-year players with junior college transfers. At the forefront of this year’s success were three junior college transfers: first baseman Breezy Collings (Orange City, Fla., Brevard CC), second baseman Alona Personius (Lake Stevens, Wash., Florida State College-Jacksonville), and pitcher Donna Munafo (Satellite Beach, Fla., Brevard CC).

Collings is one of the most decorated players in the brief history of the Flagler program. She is a two-time All-Region and All-Peach Belt Conference selection. Collings was the National Player of the Week at the end of February and is one of the most feared hitters in the conference.

“Making it to the national tournament is unforgettable, and it is something that the ladies will be able to take with them for the rest of their lives,” said Overton. “Just being able to say that we are one of the top softball programs in the country in 2012 is now undisputable. The perseverance that they showed during post season says a lot about the individuals that they are.”

For the athletics program, this was the third team in the 2011-12 academic year to make it to the elite eight. The Flagler volleyball team advanced to the national quarterfinals and fell to the host school, Cal State-San Bernardino. The men’s soccer team hosted a national quarterfinal match against Lynn University, only to fall in penalty kicks.

Only one Flagler team has reached the final four: the 2009 volleyball team.

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