2019 MCAC Softball Northern Division Poll & Preview

2019 MCAC Softball Northern Division Poll & Preview

Rochester, MN-

Softball coaches from around the Minnesota College Athletic Conference recently took time out of their preseason practice routines and spring trip preparations to offer their thoughts and predictions for the 2019 MCAC Northern Division softball season. 

Read on for the predicted order of finish and for season previews of the teams which comprise the Northern Division ranks of the MCAC.  In addition, the NJCAA has elevated their game this year with expanded coverage of NJCAA softball programs, including those in the MCAC.  Be sure to follow @NJCAASoftball on Twitter for the latest in NJCAA two-year college softball news, tidbits and information. 

Division coaches had trouble choosing between Central Lakes College and Itasca Community College for the 2019 Northern favorite; the Vikings and Raiders finished tied in preseason voting.  Central Lakes is led by head coach Ray Austin and he is looking for big things from Lisa Kossan (Motley, MN SS) and Kallie Plantenberg (Watkins, MN RHP/3B) as they start 2019 in Florida. Itasca CC head coach Kyle Erickson returns one of the top hitters in NJCAA Division III softball in Talyn McClaflin, a sophomore from Big Lake, Minnesota who earned NJCAA All-America status last year. Erickson will also be looking for current Vikings to step up and replace Kayla Christoperson, who also was a ICC All-America selection last season. 

Northland Community & Technical College was  No. 3 in the polling this year; head coach Paul Peterson welcomes back a top hitter in McKailah Salway (Fairbanks, AK, 3B) who will lead the Pioneer offense this spring. 

Mesabi Range College and Rainy River Community College claimed the next two poll positions; the MRC Norse will kick off their season in Florida and hope to get off to a strong start for 2019.  RRCC will once again be led by long-time coach Dieter Humbert who will transition from the basketball court sideline to the softball dugout again this spring.

Hibbing Community College will take the field this year under the guidance of second-year head coach Jenna Massingale. The Cardinals will compete at the Irish Dome in Rosemont in late March in their first action of the year. 

Vermilion Community College returns to softball action after a one-year hiatus in 2018. Ironmen football coach Justin Kosik will take over as the head coach of the VCC softball program, which opens up their 2019 campaign on March 26 in Rosemount against Dakota-Bottineau. 

For the MCAC Softball home page, please click here or go to: http://mcacsports.org/sports/sball/index



Minnesota College Athletic Conference 

2019 Spring Softball Coaches Poll & Preview 

Tie- MCAC North No. 1

 Itasca Community College 



(Talyn McClafilin, Big Lake, MN)

                    (Kyle Erickson & the Vikings will look to defend their 2018 Region XIII title)                   

Head Coach: Kyle Erickson

Coaching Staff: Emily Kessler, Mandi McNeil & Brooke Ostendorf

Top returning players

Talyn McClaflin, Big Lake, MN IF

Maya Schroeder, Grand Rapids, MN  IF

Madison Lathrop, Hill City, MN  IF/OF

Kenzi Riedel,  Browerville, MN   OF

Ali Tresco, Royalton, MN   P

Top incoming/new players: 

Sarah Moir  Winnepeg, Manitoba  OF

Claudia Burns, Deer River, MN  OF 

Angel Verbeck, Deer River, MN  P/IF

Claire Glines,  Greenway, MN  P

Coach Kyle Erickson's Itasca squad captured the 2018 NJCAA Region XIIIB Tournament trophy and advanced to the NJCAA National Championships, edging out Central Lakes College for the trip to Rochester. 

Talyn McClaflin (Big Lake, MN, IF) is one of the top returning hitters in all of NJCAA Division III softball. McClaflin collected 88 total hits in 2018 and captured nearly every offesnive statistical category in the MCAC North. 

Itasca will have some strong early season tests as they take on MCAC South front-runner SCTCC as well as several NJCAA Division II programs on their Florida spring trip. 

A much anticipated rematch between Itasca and MCAC Northern Division foe Central Lakes College will take place with a Saturday, April 20 double-header in Brainerd. 

Tie- MCAC North No. 1 

Central Lakes College


(Lisa Kossan, Motley, MN)

              (Kallie Plantenberg, Eden Valley, MN)  

Head Coach: Ray Austin, 2nd season at Central Lakes College,  47-26 overall record.

Coaching Staff: Ashly Erickson Assistant Coach/Pitching Coach;  Carlie Sweet, - volunteer assistant, Lindsey Jourdan - volunteer assistant.

Top returning players:

Kallie Plantenberg, Watkins, MN RHP/3B

Lisa Kossan, Motley, MN SS

Lindsay Hendrickson, Menahga, MN, 1B/OF

Sam Schimpp, Staples, MN, C/OF

Kate Olson, Princeton, MN, OF

Top incoming/new players:

Kali Mammenga, Little Falls, MN, RHP/3B

Brianna Meyer, Pierz, MN, C

Cassidy Zontelli, Brainerd, MN, 2B

Haley Youngbauer, Verndale, MN, CF

Coach Austin on Raider pitching in 2019: "We return RHP Kallie Plantenberg who was 5-0 last year. Kali Mammenga a freshman from Little Falls will share time in the circle"

Coach Austin on Raider hitting & offense in 2019: "Lisa Kossan looks to add to her stellar freshman campaign where she hit .545. We look for Brianna Meyer and Haley Youngbauer to be impact players at the plate as well."

Coach Austin on his Raider squad in 2019: "We are heading to Cocoa Beach for our spring trip. We are playing a variety of teams down there and welcome the challenge of playing some new teams."

MCAC North No. 3 

Northland Technical & Community College



               (Pioneer head coach, Paul Peterson)                           


(Mariah Stueness, Gary MN)             


Head Coach: Paul Peterson, 2nd season at Northland CTC,  10-50 overall.

Coaching Staff: Dan Sandoval and Lisa Sandoval

Top returning players:

McKailah Salway, Fairbanks, AK, 3B

Top incoming/new players:

Kelsey Landman Red Lake Falls IF/OF 

Sade Westbrook, Oveido, FL OF/C

Kalee Wall, Seymour, IN P

Hannah Nelson Roseau, MN P/2B

Coach Peterson on Pioneer pitching in 2019: "Freshman staff will be lead by RHP Kalee Wall and RHP Hannah Nelson. Both ladies had good showings in the fall. Mariah Stueness will also get some pitching time with Jessica Nichols also helping out in the bullpen."

Coach Peterson on Pioneer hitting & offense in 2019: "We have two sophomore hitters in McKailah Salway and Haley Price who played for Itasca in 2012. Salway hit .362 last year and had 17 RBI's. The freshman we added are good hitters and should add some spark to the lineup."

Coach Peterson on his Pioneer squad in 2019: "Northland should be very competitive this season. Our young, freshman team will be very talented."

MCAC North No. 4 

Mesabi Range College





(MRC will look to climb the MCAC North ranks this spring)


(Brad Scott & Mesabi Range will open up the 2019 season in Florida)                      

Head Coach: Brad Scott, 2nd season at Mesabi Range College.

Coaching Staff: Jaimi Stejskal, Eric Averbek

Mesabi Range will look to build on their 2018 Region XIIIB tournament appearance last spring.

Highlights for the Norse were a pair of 18-run outbursts, both against MCAC foe Hibbing Community College in Conference play.  MRC also picked up a pair of wins against Northland CTC on their spring trip to Florida to kick off last season. 

In 2019, the Norse will again open in Florida where they will see range of opponents, including the NCTC Pioneers and the JV teams of Notre Dame (OH) College and Marietta (OH) College.

Weather-permitting, MRC will host NJCAA Division II Gogebic Community College in early April before launching into the MCAC North slate with a DH at Central Lakes College. 



MCAC North No. 5 

Rainy River Community College







Head Coach: Dieter Humbert, 17th season at Rainy River Community

College Coaching: Roger Hasbargen, Assistant Coach

Top returning players:

Justina Hawley Fernley, NV, RHP

Casey Meyers International Falls, MN RHP

Dominique Gomez, Phoenix, AZ, OF

Top incoming/new players:

Kora Martin, Red Deer, AB, IF

Emily LaMausier, Red Deer, AB Catcher

Marissa Kerry, International Falls, MN RHP

Janet Humbert, International Falls, MN, IF

Coach Humbert on the Voyaguer pitching battery in 2019: "We have a 2-3 pitchers and 2 Catchers so that is always a good place to build your foundation. The majority of our team will be incoming freshmen but we are excited about their enthusiasm and desire to play for each other!"

Coach Humbert on the Voyaguer on hitting & offense in 2019: "I believe this could be our challenge this season as we will have to depend on contact hitting, advancing runners and productive outs."

Coach Humbert on the Voyaguer squad in 2019: "Appears to be a coachable group with some natural leaders."

MCAC North No. 6

  Hibbing Community College 


Head Coach: Jenna Massingill enters her 2nd year in charge of the Hibbing Cardinals. 

Hibbing Community College will kick off their 2019 softball campaign in late March with an appearance at the Irish Dome in Rosemont. HCC will face several MCAC programs, including Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Riverland Community College and Northern Division counterparts RRCC and Central Lakes. 

Stacie Lokken, who also suits up for the HCC women's basketball team, will look to bring her experience to the diamond for the Cardinals. 

MCAC North No. 7 

Vermilion Community College 

Head Coach: Justin Kosic

Vermilion Community College will kick off their 2019 softball campaign in late March with an appearance at the Irish Dome in Rosemont. HCC will face several MCAC foes, including Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Riverland Community College and Northern Division counterparts RRCC and Central Lakes. 

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About the Minnesota College Athletic Conference

The Minnesota College Athletic Conference is the organizational body for NJCAA-affiliated two-year technical and community college athletic programs in the Minnesota State system.  The mission of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference is to advance intercollegiate athletics by providing an engaging and supportive environment for success of our student athletes and competition among member institutions.  The MCAC is committed to the guiding principles of encouraging the development and success of student athletes, promoting the integrity, honesty and loyalty to member schools as well as upholding the sustainability of conference athletic programs.