Kragthorpe: SLCC softball keeps coming close
Nobody's sure how to greet Mary Kay Amicone these days, after her Salt Lake Community College softball team finished second in the NJCAA tournament for the third year in a row.
Congratulations? Condolences? Consolation?
She'll accept any combination of those expressions.
Amicone realizes how difficult it is to reach the finals every year, with a revolving group of sophomores bouncing back and doing whatever it took to get there again. But losing hurts, obviously.
The pain extends through a supportive family that understands competition. Amicone's husband, Marc, is the Salt Lake Bees' general manager. The couple's sons, Derek and Trevor, are involved in coaching. In their many years of baseball and softball, "We've been through some exhilarating highs and some pretty crushing lows," Mary Kay Amicone said.
Undoubtedly, there are degrees of disappointment. As close as the Bruins came to winning last weekend Saturday in St. George, being tied 2-2 in the seventh inning with Wallace State of Alabama in the championship game, the 7-3 defeat was not quite like last SLCC's 2012 experience. Last May, the Bruins led Chattanooga (Tenn.) State with two outs in the seventh, only to lose and then lose again in the if-necessary game.
In this year's case, the Bruins had to beat Pima CC of Arizona 8-5 in 12 innings just to reach the finals. "As disappointing as it is, to be able to be there in that situation was great," Amicone said.
Of course, after an 8-0 defeat of Wallace to begin the championship round, the Bruins liked their chances to win it all. But fielding problems contributed to Wallace's five-run seventh.
Someday, this will be a great story, how Amicone's program persevered and finally won a national championship. For now, she's just left with the harsh feeling that the season suddenly is over and most of the key players are moving on from the two-year program.
"You grieve the loss of the season," she said, "and losing the players. You have such a relationship with your players."
Three departing players received All-America honors, as pitcher MaCauley Flint made the first team and infielders Malia Campos and Maddy Woodard made the second team. In addition, outfielder Tanisha Anderson, first baseman Lyndsey Healey and catcher Susan Duke were honored in Region 18, after SLCC beat the host team, Southern Idaho, in the tournament finals to qualify for the NJCAA event.