SEVERN, MD. -- Even though the Central Lakes College Raiders softball team lost both of its games Thursday, the learning experience of a national tournament trip is almost indescribable.
The Raiders lost to Orange County (N.Y.) 10-4 and to Broome (N.Y.) 12-4 in the Division III Community College National Tournament, but that may end up being of the least importance.
"Education-wise, it's been a great experience," CLC coach Dennis Eastman said. "Ninety percent of the team will never get here otherwise. You get to see different cultures. The only thing we did that was the same in Minnesota was go to the mall."
The Raiders stayed Monday night in the Twin Cities and flew to Baltimore at 1 p.m. Tuesday. Raiders freshman Becky Poster said the team took it easy and prepared for the national tournament.
"We've had a lot of fun," said Poster, who was 4-for-5 in the two games Thursday. "We have fun as a team because everybody gets along. This is an experience we'll always remember."
The Raiders plan to use the next three days to take in Six Flags theme park and Washington, D.C., but Eastman said they could learn a lot by attending the championship game Saturday.
The team has also met and got to know many new people, including players from Broome, the team which it lost to Thursday.
"They bonded with the team we played today," Eastman said. "They met some kids from New York. We took down some barriers. We had stereotyped people from New York and people from New York had stereotyped people from Minnesota."
Watching the Broome-CLC game Thursday night one would never know which team was from New York and which was from Minnesota.
Several fans and relatives made the trek across the country to see the best community college softball in the nation.
And for some -- namely Douglas Ostlund -- it wasn't easy.
Ostlund, who is from Bertha, and the father of pitcher Nanette Ostlund, drove with his brother, Butch, his niece, Alyssa, and Jerry Sovich, father of pitcher Jenny Sovich, and made it as far as Ohio. Just before reaching Pennsylvania, the transmission in his car gave out and the group was forced to rent a car the rest of the way.
"It turned a 20-hour drive into a 26-hour drive," Douglas said.
Also making the trip via automobile was left fielder Jolene Otteson's mom, Kim Riewer, brother Jordan Riewer, sister Mallory Riewer, and grandmother Ruth Nurnberger. Otteson's grandfather Jerry Riewer picked up the last ticket the team was offering and flew out Tuesday.
Also flying out to support the team were shortstop Destiny Smith's mom, Diane, and sister, Lacey; Heidi Rogge's mom, Cindy, and Jenny Nelson's mom, Becky, and grandmother, Solvieg Johnson.
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