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      Owens softball team on the rise

      "The talent pool that we have here and the kids that we have are all northwest Ohio or lower Michigan type kids that right now we can play with anybody." words from Owens Community College softball Head Coach Duane Lanham.

      In his eighth season, he has the Express squad 28-0 and ranked 11th in the country. "In this team it's hard to find any weaknesses. You look at different components that makes a strong team, you have some shortgamers, you have to have solid defense which this team plays, you have to have offense generated, and good pitching, and right now we seem to have all that." said Lanham.

      The offense is led by Sophomores Kristen Roznoski of Cardinal Stritch, who leads the nation in batting average and on base percentage, and Gibsonburg's Alaina Haubert, who leads the team in home runs and RBI. "It seems like our chemistry has grown so much more together." said Haubert.

      The offense is a team effort according to Coach Lanham. "The team currently is batting a .434 team batting average which is leading the nation. And that doesn't happen with just one or two hitters, we right now have about 10, 11 girls that we can put in the lineup offensively that can get the job done."

      The team is not complete without outstanding pitching. The rotation is led by Jordan Ratliff of Summerfield who is 12-0 on the season. "I knew that we had talent but I never knew we would come together this well." said Ratliff.

      Much like the offense, Coach Lanham knows the team's wins are attributed to more than just one ace. "Each girl going out there I have confidence in. Ashlyn Michalak (Springfield) leads us next, I believe with nine wins. Elizabeth Weber (Oak Harbor) is a returner for us that was very strong last year. Kasey Graham coming from Clay. Very, very good pitchers. They're all unique and different in their own way and take care of business when they're on the mound."

      Last year's team went deep into the playoffs before falling to Muskingum. In 2005, the Express finished fifth in the nation. When asked if this years team can get over the hump and win it all, Coach Lanham simply answered: "I think they can."