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      Owens hurler racking up K's

      Just like she did at Springfield high school, Owens softball pitcher Ashlyn Michalak is dominating batters at the plate.

      The sophomore is off to a 5-0 start and has record 68 strikeouts in only 38 innings of work. In her season debut she set a school record with 19 K's in a complete game effort.

      "I had no idea about the record, I was just trying to work as hard as I could for my team and I just happened to break a record while I was doing it," Michalak said.

      Once Michalak gets in the zone, it's difficult for opponents to knock her off her game.

      "I never really get rattled," said Michalak, who also gave plenty of credit to the advice and guidance she's gotten from her coaches throughout her career. "There's going to be runners getting on, there's going to be hits...just keep your head on straight and just keep working at getting out of innings."

      The school record for strikeouts in a season belongs to Rogers alum Kelli Short, who recorded 226 in 2006. A daunting task, but something that's not out of the realm of possibility.

      "She has it. And, you know, she's shown that all through her career both at Springfield and now out here," said head coach Duane Lanham.

      Like any good pitcher, Michalak has numerous pitches in her arsenal and a go-to pitch to record the final strike.

      "Definitely my curveball. It's been my pitch for a couple years now and I love busting batters inside, it's one fo the harder zones to hit," Michalak said.

      Last year's team enjoyed the best season in the history of the program. Following a 33-0 start, the Express made it all the way to the NJCAA Division II National Championhip game and finishing the season runner-up.

      Michalak played a key role in that tournament run, picking up the win in the semfinal game to give her team a shot at the championship. This year she's taken on a leadership role and hopes to have her team in the thick of things once again.

      "It's definitely a feeling that we are striving for again...we know how it feels, we want it back again, it's a great feeling."