Category Archives: Cowley

Why Cowley and Butler don’t play in softball


In the process of putting together our juco softball previews on NJCAA Division I No. 11 Butler and NJCAA Division II No. 3 Cowley that ran in today’s Eagle and at, one of the questions I asked both coaches – Doug Chance at Butler and Ed Hargrove at Cowley – was why the two schools don’t play each other.

Turns out, there’s some lingering bad blood between the schools. And it all goes back to a Cowley pitcher named Ashly Bright, a 2006 doubleheader that never happened, the difference between NJCAA Division I (Butler) and NJCAA Division II (Cowley), some hurt feelings and two completely different stories on what went down.

According to Chance, the Grizzlies were scheduled to play a doubleheader at Arkansas City. He didn’t think the Grizzlies could beat Cowley twice because of Bright, who would end up being a unanimous pick for Jayhawk East player of the year and pitch for Wichita State.

“She was so good, just dominant,” Chance said. “We didn’t think we could beat her, but we thought we might be able to get one game from them, from another one of their pitchers.”

Chance said that Hargrove called him a couple of weeks before the doubleheader was scheduled to be played and said Cowley would only play one game of the doubleheader against Butler, and would bring in another team to play the other game.

That didn’t sit well with Chance, because Butler and Cowley were both Division II at the time – Butler is now Division I – and he wanted both shots at Cowley, who would finish the year No. 2 in the national rankings.

Chance then had Butler assistant coach Zack Sigler call a Cowley assistant at the time — someone Zigler had worked with before — and cancel the doubleheader.

“I didn’t think that was right, for them to not play us both games because we had an agreement in place,” Chance said. “Since Zack had someone on their staff he knew, I had him call them.”

This is where the stories diverge in a big way.

“(Chance) had his assistant call us and cancel, and I think they didn’t want us to play because of Ashly, who was so dominant,” Hargrove said. “We never proposed bringing in another team. They cancelled on us and left a huge hole in our schedule.

“The assistant said it was because of budgetary concerns … which I find hard to believe because the schools are only 60 miles apart. Doesn’t make sense.”

Hargrove also admitted that their had been  lingering problems between the schools dating back to before Chance took the job, and in the battle for recruits.  From my perspective, Hargrove has been dogged in publicizing his team – if there’s any mention of Butler in the paper, brief or story, there’s usually a follow-up e-mail asking for the same for Cowley and citing the battle for recruits. Usually, the e-mails are pretty heavy-handed, but I understand he’s trying to promote his team.

“We split on going after a lot of the same recruits,” Hargrove said.

And that leads to the Division I vs. Division II stuff – Butler is one of five teams in the Jayhawk that play Division I, which means they’ve chosen to go against jucos around the country with full scholarships, something the Jayhawk does not offer. Cowley is one of 16 Jayhawk schools that play DII and go against other partial and non-scholarship jucos.

“I think one difference you can see is where we place players,” Chance said.

That’s actually a good point – take this for example – Cowley outfielder Laura Seeman has signed with Emporia State. Seeman was an All-American last season. Butler pitcher/outfielder Kelsey Berlin, a similar player is headed to Arkansas. Butler has a glut of Division I players on their roster, already signed. The Tigers might have one this year. How successful they’ll be on the next level is anyone’s guess, but the perception from NCAA Division I programs is that the juco DI schools are producing more talent right now.

That’s not to say the teams won’t ever play again – Chance said he’s approached Cowley about setting up games, which Hargrove confirmed, but said he’s taking more of a wait-and-see approach.  Chance said he’d even be willing to pay for the umpires to make it happen.

“We want to play,” Chance said. “Anytime, anywhere.”




Top 10 stories of 2012


1. Brandon Brown

Tabor College defensive lineman Brandon Brown was found beaten, unconscious and unresponsive outside of a house party in McPherson in the early-morning hours of Sept. 16. He died six days later in a Wichita hospital and two former McPherson College football players have been charged with murder in the case. An eyewitness account of that night paints a gruesome picture.


2. Butler football loses in NJCAA title game

Butler Community College’s football team lost in the NJCAA championship game for the second time in three years, falling 27-7 to Iowa Western in the Graphic Edge Bowl in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The Grizzlies didn’t have arguably their top offensive player in West Virginia-bound running back Dreamius Smith (broken collarbone), and starting quarterback Billy Cosh was knocked out on the final play of the first half while trying to make a touchdown-saving tackle … but I’m not sure having both of them for the entire game would’ve mattered. This was the Reivers’ year.

3. McPherson’s historic run to the NAIA D2 Final Four

Sometimes, a good coach does make all the difference. In four years, McPherson College men’s coach Tim Swartzendruber has engineered one of the most amazing runs in KCAC history and made it all the way to the NAIA Division II Final Four this year, where the Bulldogs fell to Northwood (Fla.) and former Villanova coach Rollie Massimino. Swartzendruber’s teams have been to the NAIA Tournament three years in a row, a first in KCAC history.

4. Cowley volleyball comes up short in bid for back-to-back national titles

The Cowley volleyball team entered the NJCAA Division II championship game 38-0 and the defending national champion but lost to Grand Rapids 25-20, 25-23, 26-24. Cowley has two national runner-ups and one title in four years under coach Jennifer Bahner.

5. Blue Dragon women fall in NJCAA championship game

For some reason, this was the year that teams from Kansas kept coming up short – specifically three from the Jayhawk Conference that made it to national championship games before losing. In another incredible twist,  Butler football, Cowley volleyball and Hutchinson women’s basketball were all undefeated before their losses in the title game.  The Blue Dragons, coached by John Ontjes, were 36-0 before losing to top-seeded Trinity Valley in Salina.

6. Jaime Green quits

Newman women’s basketball coach Jaime Green’s incredibly successful – and controversial – two-year stint as the women’s basketball coach of the Jets came to an end when she surprised Newman athletic director Vic Trilli with her resignation in March in order to take a job as an assistant coach at her alma mater, Missouri Southern. The Jets eventually hired former New Mexico State coach Darrin Spence to take over for Green.

7. Butler opens new stadium

In a big, big way – $12 million well spent.  The opening of BG Products Veterans Sports Complex in El Dorado ended a decade-long saga of a town and a school fighting over how to showcase their most bankable product — the Butler Community College football team. With Coffeyville’s Veterans Memorial Stadium and Hutchinson’s Gowans Stadium also housing teams in the Jayhawk, you have a league with facilities that rival most NCAA Division II conferences.

8. Cordarrelle Patterson signs with Tennessee

Former Coffeyville football coach Dick Foster coached the only Heisman Trophy winner ever to come out of the Jayhawk Conference — Nebraska running back Mike Rozier — and even he thought Patterson might be the best player to ever come out of the celebrated junior-college league. The Hutchinson Community College wide receiver/returner is likely headed to the NFL after one season at Tennessee. 

Even in the Jayhawk, where schools pump out D1 and NFL players ever year, Patterson’s recruitment was a wild ride.

9. What’s a taxi squad?

One of the more controversial rule changes to hit Jayhawk football in recent memory came when the league decided to include taxi squads to their rosters this year,  meaning each of the eight schools could keep four extra out-of-state players on the roster to play in non-conference and bowl games … and making the 12 out-of-staters that school’s have had to traditionally pick before the season and stick with even through injuries a flexible thing – coaches could change out those spots week-to-week.

10. Pittsburg State’s collapse

What in the world happened to the Gorillas? The defending NCAA Division II football champions were ranked No. 1 into the middle of October and then…

What will become of the senior year for John Brown and Nate Dreiling, two almost sure-fire PSU Hall of Famers? I can’t wait to find out.

Thanks for reading.


Cowley volleyball advances to NJCAA Division II semifinals

Cowley College won twice on Thursday at the NJCAA Division II tournament in Toledo, Ohio, sweeping Northeast Oklahoma A&M 3-0 (25-11, 25-19, 25-13) and beating Kansas City Kansas 3-1 (25-13, 25-17, 21-25, 25-21). Cowley (37-0) is the the defending Division II champion and faces host school Owens (37-9) on Friday at 5:30 p.m.

In other Cowley news, athletic director Richard Speas resigned Thursday, according to Speas had only been on the job since June 18.

Cowley volleyball begins national title defense


Here’s my article that ran in Saturday’s Eagle – Cowley seems like they have a real shot to repeat as NJCAA D2 national champsFourth-year coach Jennifer Bahner has had one of the greatest starts to a career – in any sport – in Jayhawk Conference history. She finished as national runnerup in 2009, her 1st season, third in 2010 and won it all last season.



Two Cowley softball players named 1st team All-Americans … and they’re both freshmen


Big postseason honors today out of Ark City, as Cowley CC freshman outfielder Laura Seeman and freshman 2B Haley Strawn were both named first-team NJCAA Division II All-Americans – capping a big year in which the Tigers won the Jayhawk East and finished 4th at the NJCAA D2 Tournament.

Strawn, who I wrote a feature about last month, led Cowley in batting (.505), home runs (20), doubles (29), hits (107), runs scored (82), total bases (196) and slugging percentage (.925). She also recorded a .991 fielding percentage in her first year playing second base – her natural position is shortstop. Cowley coach Ed Hargrove moved her to second after another player quit before the season.

Seeman, a Maize product, led Cowley in on base percentage (.551) and was second in home runs (15), runs scored (64), total bases (148) and slugging percentage (.846). She also was third on the team in hits (88) and RBIs (67).

The big question now, and I suppose this is a good problem to have, is if Hargrove will still move Strawn back to shortstop like he said he planned to.

Highland pitcher Zuzana Kudernatschova and Independence 1B Heather Lanphear were also first-team picks out of the Jayhawk.



Cowley softball heads to NJCAA Division II Tournament


The Cowley College softball team is headed back to the NJCAA Division II Tournament – their first trip since 2009. Heres my article on the Tigers’ trip to Clinton, Miss.  that is up at and running in Wednesday’s Eagle.

Ranked No. 4 in the last national poll, the Tigers are the No. 5 seed and face No. 12 Mercyhurst on Thursday at 9:30 a.m.

The Tigers are on the same side of the bracket as top seed and defending champion LSU-Eunice, but Cowley is as stacked as any team Ed Hargrove has brought to nationals in his 28 seasons. Two-year starter Taylor Hatfield (.421 BA, 5 HRs, 68 RBIs) has signed with Kansas and has been the Tigers starting catcher for two years.  Courtney Rash (1B), Haley Strawn (2B), Kelsey Overacker (OF) and Laura Seeman (OF) all were named All-Jayhawk East. The pitching duo of Taylor Parsons and Haleigh Sills matches up as a 1-2 punch with anybody in the tournament.

I’ll keep you updated on wins/losses for Cowley and Butler, which opens NJCAA DI play Thursday against Pima.



Cowley softball building around Haley Strawn

Here’s my feature on Cowley College second baseman Haley Strawn that ran in Saturday’s Eagle and at Strawn, a freshman from Oklahoma City, was recruited by coach Ed Hargrove to play outfield this year and then shortstop next season – her two natural positions. When Cowley’s second baseman left the team before the season started, Strawn stepped up. How she was able to learn the position was really amazing – read the article to find out how.

Oh yeah, she’s also one of the best hitters in the nation.


Thoughts on Butler-Coffeyville, KCAC basketball and Cowley volleyball



It’s been a busy week for me, starting with last Tuesday’s KCAC basketball media day in Wichita and continuing on to Saturday’s showdown between No. 1 Butler and No. 3 Coffeyville at Coffeyville. Today, I had the chance to talk with Cowley volleyball coach Jennifer Bahner, who led the Tigers to a national-runner up finish last year (her first year) and has Cowley ranked No. 1 this year and on a school record 26-game win streak.

So let’s dive in.

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Cowley College volleyball named preseason No. 1



The Cowley College volleyball team came really close to winning a national championship last year, falling to Illinois Central College in the NJCAA Division II national title match. The Tigers are picked No. 1 this year, ahead of ICC, in the preseason poll. And to win it all, you need a big-time outside hitter, which Cowley has in national player of the year candidate and reigning Jayhawk East MVP Roslandy Acosta. Johnson County was the other Jayhawk team in the D2 poll at No. 4. Here’s the press release from Cowley:

Cowley volleyball ranked No. 1 in national poll

Returning seven players from last season’s national runner- up squad, the Cowley College volleyball team was recently picked No. 1 in the NJCAA Division II national pre-season poll.
The Lady Tigers were picked ahead of second-ranked Illinois Central College, the team that Cowley faced in last year’s national title match.

“This is a great honor for our program and the Cowley athletic department as a whole,” Cowley head coach Jenifer Bahner said. “The volleyball program’s success from past years is obviously a big contributor of this, along with the new kids we have brought in.”

Sophomore right side hitter/setter, Roslandy Acosta, highlights the list of returning players as she was named a First-Team All-American, the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Eastern Division Most Valuable Player, Jayhawk East Freshman of the Year, and was a First-Team All-Region selection.

Other returners are, Elena Berroteran (defensive specialist/outside hitter), Lindsey Chandler (middle/outside hitter), Sarah Skinner (middle/right side hitter), Kaitlin Stearns (defensive specialist), Kelsey Patterson (outside hitter), and Meagan Cahill (middle hitter).

Cowley finished last season with a record of 32-5 and had the highest winning percentage (86.5%) in the program’s history. Bahner, who guided the Lady Tigers to conference and region titles, a 19-match win streak, and the runner-up national finish in her first season as head coach, knows her team will be challenged throughout the season.

“We know teams are going to want to beat us and we will get our opponents best effort each game,” Bahner said. “I am proud of the recognition but we just need to focus on what we need to do as a team in order to be successful.”

Friends in NAIA tournament/Cowley plays for national title



Just got done writing my Friends volleyball story advancing tomorrow’s (Saturday) NAIA national playoff game at No. 14 Bellevue (Neb.) — kind of a cool side note to the whole goings-on is that the mothers of current Falcons Courtney McCune and Jessica Mullen played on the last Friends team to play at nationals … in 1984! Also came away impressed with how Friends coach Martin Ayin has built his team — mainly with local talent. Here’s the key when you recruit locally — you still need to get good local players to fill your roster. Ayin did that.

For Cowley — the Tigers are playing for the national title Saturday at Wisconsin Dells, Wisc., where they’ll take on Illinois Central in the championship match. It’s a 1 vs. 2 final — Cowley is 2 — and Ill. Central beat Cowley earlier this season in five games, although the Tigers are on a 19-match winning streak and beat Parkland 20-25, 25-20, 25-22, 19-25, 15-13 in the semifinals.


Ps. You’re a Killers fan? Wow, me too! LOL — enjoy