Playing for pride and determined to leave a legacy of finishing their season on a winning note, the Central Lakes College Raiders rebounded from two opening-round losses in the NJCAA Division III softball tournament and took a full measure of revenge on Nassau Community College of Garden City, N.Y.
After losing to Anne Arundel Community College and Delta College Thursday in Arnold, Md., the Raiders bounced back and completed their season with a 13-4 thumping of Nassau.
The win gave the Raiders claim to the distinction of seventh-best Division III softball team in the NJCAA for the second consecutive season.
"It was a rough opening day," Raiders coach Dennis Eastman said from his hotel room in Arnold, "but it was just one of those things.
"The difference between our program and the other schools in the tournament is the number of games we play. Some of these teams, like Dawson, play 50 games and we come in having played 25.
"But it's not feasible for us to play more games than we do. Academically, it would be difficult and our priority is academics.
"We impressed some of these East colleges. A Division I school is very interested in two of our players. There are a lot of teams in Minnesota who would die to experience what we've accomplished. And, we've done it two years in a row."
With sophomore ace Jenny Sovich toeing the mound against Nassau, the Raiders' bats woke up and provided more than enough support for the right-hander to cruise to victory.
Sovich allowed just four runs, all in the first two innings, while scattering five hits.
Meanwhile, the Raiders were pounding out hit after hit, run after run, inning after inning.
The Raiders put up runs in every inning against Nassau, collecting a pair of runs in the first, three more in the second, two in the third and four in the fourth to open up an 11-4 lead. CLC was once again scoring fast and furious and got back to playing Raiders softball.
Amy Martinson hit a towering home run, her second of the tournament, added a double, four RBI and scored two runs for CLC. Teammate Becki Wagner was 2-for-3 with two runs scored to go with a home run in Thursday's action.
"Becky Poster was once again 3-for-4 with three runs scored and one RBI," Eastman said. "That's a .700 average for the tournament. In two years of national tournament play, Becky was 15-for-20. That's a .750 average, which is phenomenal. It's just unreal."
Poster also stole a base to round out her impressive offensive performance.
CLC right fielder Cassey Veith contributed three RBI on a bases-clearing triple in the Raiders' four-run fourth.
Raiders catcher Katie Foss collected two RBI on a hit and a sacrifice and scored two runs. Designated hitter Heather Olson had a double and one RBI.
"We were tired but loose," said Eastman. "After getting done with our game the night before at 10:45 p.m. and then getting up at 7 a.m. (Friday), leaving the hotel at 8 a.m., and trying to wake up and play at 10 a.m., the team did just fine.
"Everyone at CLC should be proud of these young ladies. I know that I sure am.
"What these sophomores have done for this program is amazing. When they came in as freshmen, little was known about this team. Now, for two straight years, we've been one of the top seven teams in the nation. Our young ladies played hard. Just to be out here and have the opportunity to play against this kind of competition is great."
Eastman and his Raiders are scheduled to return to Brainerd Monday.
Central Lakes College 232 43-- 13 13 0
Nassau Community College 130 00-- 4 5 0
CLC -- Jenny Sovich and Katie Foss; Nassau -- Janas and Spencer. WP -- Sovich. LP -- Janas. HR -- CLC, Martinson. Final record -- CLC 21-7.
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