RCTC softball team takes aim at national title

One goal down, one more to go.

After placing fourth in the nation a year ago, the Rochester Community and Technical College softball team entered the 2010 season with the goal of making a return trip to the NJCAA Division III National Tournament. The Yellowjackets have achieved that goal and now look to win the teams first national title in this week's eight-team, double-elimination event.

The tournament is again being played in Rochester, but this year shifts from the RCTC campus to the McQuillan Softball Complex.

RCTC (32-15) opens play against Suffolk (33-7) in a first-round game at 10 a.m. Thursday. Suffolk was rated third in the final national poll of the season. The Yellowjackets were not ranked, but had climbed as high as No. 4 in the polls during the regular season.

"That's the goal," RCTC coach Jean Musgjerd said of winning a national title, "but you need to take just one game at a time. Right now we just have to get past Suffolk and take it from there."


Win or lose, RCTC will play a second game at 2 p.m. on Thursday. The Yellowjackets are in the same half of the bracket as defending champion Tompkins and Brookdale and will play either the winner or loser of that game in the second round.

All four teams in RCTC's half of the bracket are making return trips to the national tournament. Tompkins (32-8) enters ranked No. 4 in the nation and Brookdale (41-10) is seventh.

"You just never know how you're going to match up with that first game because you don't have the scouting report," Musgjerd said.

The only team in the field RCTC has faced this year is Itasca, the second Minnesota team in the tourney. Itasca (49-5) is ranked No. 2 in the nation. Perennial power Monroe (42-13) out of New York enters ranked No. 1 in the nation and Rock Valley (29-15) is No. 8. The other team in the field, Allegheny County-South (15-14), is unranked.

RCTC returns seven players from last year's fourth-place team. All-American pitcher DeAnna Mock leads the charge. The Rochester native is 22-7 with a 2.12 ERA. She will be heavily counted on and opens against a Suffolk team that is batting .409.

Catcher Kelly Shaner and Caitlin Donahoe, who was the designated hitter a year ago, are the other full-time starters back and Katey Krohnberg was a key reserve. All three are having banner years in 2010. Shaner is batting .389 with 41 RBIs and Donahoe is hitting .413 with 35 RBIs and a team-best 48 runs score. In a part-time role, Krohnberg is hitting .406.

Freshman Anna Ramboldt of Goodhue leads the Yellowjackets in hitting (.465) and RBIs (53). Kasson's Halie Damon, who hit a home run to propel RCTC into the national tournament, is batting .346 with 35 RBIs. Rochester's Amelia Jajowka is batting .346 and has scored 37 runs.

RCTC left a lot of runners on base during the state tournament and Musgjerd said situational hitting will be a key to the team's success on the national level.


"You can't just depend on your first four or five hitters," Musgjerd said. "You need help all through the order; one through nine needs to take care of their job."

The second round of the tournament will be on Friday and the championship round will be Saturday with the title game set for noon.

"I think we appreciate being back and I know that was the goal," Musgjerd said.

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