It's hard to put into words what Seniors Jennifer Cannon and Danielle Catalano have meant to the Lipscomb University softball program. As the 2005 softball season approaches, Cannon and Catalano prepare for their final campaign in a Lipscomb uniform. Both Cannon and Catalano leave their mark on the Lipscomb program with their names located throughout the softball record pages.
Head Softball Coach Andy Lane could not be more proud of his 2005 senior class.
"Both Jennifer and Danielle are outstanding players. But what stands out about them even more is their dedication in the classroom and dedication to their role on the team as leaders. The 2005 team will have their fingerprints because of their fierce desire to compete and maturity to display themselves as outstanding people. Both of these young ladies come from outstanding families so it is no surprise that they are great great people,"Lane said.
"As a coach all you ask for are players who commit themselves in the classroom, prepare themselves to compete and be the type of teammate that gets along with all of your players. We get that from both Jennifer and Danielle and then on top of that you get a burning desire to win games and be successful. It's special to see players who it really hurts if you loose and it is a prideful thing when you win. That is what makes these two young ladies special and separates them from so many players,"Lane said.
Jennifer Cannon joined the Lady Bison program after an outstanding career at David Lipscomb High School in Nashville. Cannon helped lead the Lady Mustangs to the TSSAA State Title in 1997. Upon her arrival at Lipscomb University in 2001-02, Cannon found a home at firstbase. She also established herself in a power spot in the Lady Bison hitting line-up. From her first season playing for Lipscomb, Cannon made an immediate impact.
Lane has seen Cannon mature as a player.
"Jennifer has been a terrific player for us during her career. From day one she has worked to get better and better. When she first came in she was a very talented as it was, but has worked so hard in the weightroom and gotten so much stronger. Early in her career she hit a lot of hard balls to the outfield, but now she peppers the fence with some of the hardest hit line drives you will ever see. It has been fun watching her hit some massive shots during her career," Lane said.
Cannon is proud of what her and Danielle have built as they conclude their careers.
"During my career it has been a continual building process. We went through a period of transition where we were not able to play for a championship to where we can now advance to the tournament. I am proud of what we have built and the foundation for future players."
Cannon not only has excelled on the softball field, but also in the classroom being named All-Conference Scholar Athlete in 2004.
"I have made so many good friends and memories. The entire Lipscomb experience has been good having God a part of everything we do here. When you attend school in a Christian environment it helps you create habits that are needed for the rest of your life.
Cannon is excited about the 2005 season.
"On this years team we have so many players who are determined to be successful and are extremely dedicated to softball. Everyone has a winning attitude, no questions asked. Our players are hard workers and very talented. They are all just great girls."Cannon said.
Lane feels Cannon's final year will be her best.
"The thing that stands out about Jennifer is her leadership and desire to become a better player both physically and mentally. She is working harder going into her senior season than at any point in her career. I am convinced she is going to have a terrific senior season because of her hard work and mental toughness," Lane said.
Heading into the 2005 season, Cannon holds Lipscomb records for career RBI's (69); doubles in a season (11-2004) and career (26); homeruns in a season (7-2003) and a career 13; career slugging percentage (.407); extra base hits in a season (15-2004) and a career (40); base on balls in a season (22-2003) and in a career (48); and defensively for putouts in a game 14 vs Eastern Kentucky on February 14, 2003, season (340-2004) and in a career (948).
Cannon is the daughter of Pat and Sandy Cannon. In May, Cannon will graduate with a Exercise Science degree. After graduation she will be joining the Lady Bison program as an Assistant Coach as she begins work on her Master's degree.
Danielle Catalano joined the Lady Bison program in 2001-02 after a brilliant career at Coffee County High School in Manchester, Tennessee. Catalano picked up at Lipscomb where she left off at Coffee County. Catalano established herself as one of the top pitchers in the Lady Bison program.
Lane said having Catalano throw is like having a coach on the field.
"The thing about Danielle she is not just a thrower, but she is a pitcher. She had great coaching from her Dad, Mom and high school program that taught her to think while she is out on the field. Although she doesn't throw the hardest she knows what to throw and where to throw and it doesn't hurt that she has terrific movement on the ball. She has worked hard over the years to be able to control the ball the way she does,"
Lane said Catalano has grown both as a person and player throughout her career.
"Over the years I have seen a lot of changes. I've gotten new coaches and many new teammates. I think the program has evolved a great deal towards improvement and will only get better. I am so thankful that I was able to come to a school like Lipscomb. The teachers are willing to work with you and if you need help they truly care about you."
Catalano also was successful in the classroom being named to the 2004 Academic All-Conference team.
Catalano is also excited about the 2005 team.
"I think we have the talent to go a long ways this season. We have depth on defense and offense that will help us be able to remain strong throughout the year."
Lane said the tone that Catalano sets as a competitor has influenced the entire team.
"Danielle is sort of a silent competitor. When you look at her your see this nice sweet looking girl, but what you can't see is her inner drive to beat you. The only time you see her mad is when she comes up short, but I know the next time Danielle will win because she is only going to settle for being the best. I have gained even more respect for Danielle as she has dealt with some injures over her career. We have had to be smart to rest her at times, but she has never used that as a crutch. I know when it's gametime Danielle will be there and perform well."
Heading into the 2005 season Catalano holds Lipscomb pitching records for career games pitched (72); career victories (22); games started (57); complete games (35); shutouts in a season (4-2003) and in a career (9); career innings pitched (348); strikeouts in a career (276) and consecutive scoreless innings (13-2/20/03-3/4/03); and on March 2, 2004 Catalano threw the programs first no hitter during the NCAA era in a victory over Austin Peay State University.
Catalano is the daughter of Danny and Cynthia Catalano from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Catalano will graduate in May with a degree in Psychology. The summer of 2005 will be an exciting one for Danielle as she and her fiancee John Luke Shelton will be marrying on June 11. Danielle and John Luke will be moving to Memphis where John Luke is in Dental school and Danielle will begin post graduate work.
Lane said he has seen the impact both Cannon and Catalano have made on their teammates.
"These two young ladies have demonstrated everything that is good about college athletics. They have been dedicated in the classroom and given back to the school and softball program with their ability and time. We tell our players that `Your talent is a gift from God and what you do with that talent is your gift back to God' and they both have done a terrific job. "
Lane knows it will take special players replace his two seniors.
"It will be difficult to replace them from a talent standpoint, but we know that we will have players step up to fill their positions. The thing that is going to be hard to replace are the intangibles of leadership and competitiveness. Along with the off the field decisions concerning academics and the every day choices we are faced with in our lives. I know that both Jennifer and Danielle are having an impact on our younger players that will produce players that will carry on what they have built in our program. "
Lane finished by saying when you come to the end of your career it is really simple, but with hard work you can attain your goals.
"We want to be able to hug our players on graduation day and both realize they are proud of their education, they had a lot of fun playing softball , won a lot of games and made some friends that will last a lifetime,"Lane said. "I think with both Jennifer and Danielle we will reach all those goals."
Few players have the drive and inner strength to separate themselves from other athletes and to earn the right to be called a True Champion. Both Jennifer Cannon and Danielle Catalano have earned that right and will forever be remembered as True Champions for the Lipscomb Softball program.