Yellowjackets baseball wants more consistency

It’s been more of an up-and-down season than Rochester Community and Technical College Yellowjackets baseball coach Steve Hucke would like. The team is 12-12 on the season, including a trip down south to play against some very good competition.

The early season strength of the Yellowjackets has been pitching. The batting order is still looking for a little more consistency, but Hucke said they’ve got the talent to hit the ball well. They’ve also been bitten by the injury bug.

Yellowjackets baseball

RCTC baseball coach Steve Hucke says he’s looking for more consistency from the Yellowjackets, who are 12-12 on the season going into their next action on Thursday, April 13, with a home doubleheader at 2 and 4:00. (article from wn.news.com)

“Our record says we’re .500 and that’s kind of how we’ve been playing,” Hucke said. “We’ll come out one day and play really tough and look really good. For some reason, we’ll come back and I don’t know if we’re satisfied with that or what. I’m happy with the wins but I’m not satisfied with being .500 because I think we’re a better team than that.”

The Yellowjackets baseball team had a  big question mark coming into the season, which was pitching. The team had to replace some good arms from last season but they’ve had some good kids step up and fill some of those roles. He says the unfortunate thing is the batters can’t seem to generate consistent run support.

 

 

“Our relief pitchers have come in and they understand their role that they’re supposed to fill when they enter the game,” Hucke said. “It’s been fun to see them come in and hold leads or get saves, and to pitch well enough for us to have a chance to come back and get a win.”

The first bullpen breakdown of the season didn’t happen until last Sunday when a normally reliable reliever came in, left a pitch up, and gave up three runs to Dakota County Technical College in the seventh inning. However, the Jackets did come back and win the game 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning on a walk-off base hit.

As he looks up and down the batting lineup, Hucke feels the team has a lot of potential to do some damage at the plate. The biggest challenge right now is the Yellowjackets baseball team is struggling with injuries.

 

 

“We’ve got the sticks to do it,” Hucke said, “we just need our approach at the plate to be a little more consistent and in tune with what we’re trying to do. We’re getting there.”

The team is getting much better defensively after what Hucke called a very rocky start to the season. He said the team likely has more errors to start a season than they’ve had in the last few years. A lot of it may have to do with spending most of their time inside the bubble over the football field working out to suddenly finding themselves outside in the middle of competition, switching from AstroTurf to natural grass.

“You get used to attacking the ball a little bit differently now that you’re on grass versus staying back and waiting for it to get to you on turf,” Hucke said. “We’re making some great plays in the outfield. Our outfielders have been phenomenal and we’re getting there around the infield so I think we’ll be okay.”

The team is coming off a Sunday afternoon split against Dakota County Technical College, dropping the first game 4-0 before coming back in dramatic fashion in the second game, winning 4-3. Hucke said the conference schedule is going to be as competitive as ever this spring.

“Our conference is pretty competitive and very talented,” he said. “We’ve also played one of our toughest non-conference schedules in recent years. We played a lot of tough teams on our spring trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, including a lot of Division 1 and Division 2 teams (scholarship programs). We came out of there at .500 against good teams so I can’t complain too much about that.”

Hucke said the trips down south give the team a chance to get to know each other. It’s important to find out who gets along with who and the team gets to find out about each other.

“Now, they’re forced to be together every day on a bus, in the condominiums where we stay, and out on the diamond,” Hucke said. “They’ll find out what the team is made of after a trip like that.”

The Yellowjackets baseball team is back in action on Thursday, April 13, with a home doubleheader against the St. Mary’s JV squad at 2 and 4:00. They’ll hit the road for a Friday conference doubleheader at St. Cloud Tech with games scheduled for 1 and 3:00.

 

Yellowjackets fall by one in basketball opener

RCTC Yellowjackets basketballThe Rochester Community and Technical College Yellowjackets opened the men’s basketball season at home on Wednesday night against Dakota County Technical College out of Rosemount. The Jackets played their first regular season game after making a run into the National Junior College Athletic Association National Tournament last year, finishing as the national runner-up. In case you didn’t know, that wasn’t their first deep foray into the postseason.

Head coach Brian LaPlante has built a very good program in his two decades at the college. Including Wednesday night, his overall record at the school 396-174. Over the course of his career as Yellowjackets coach, he’s taken his team to six national tournaments. The Yellowjackets have some things to clean up (it’s early, who doesn’t) they were very entertaining to watch. I’d encourage more members of the community to spend some time at the Regional Sports Center and take in some basketball this winter.

The Jackets led by a point at the half, 35-34, but Dakota Tech outscored RCTC 38-36 in the second half to pull out the win. Late in the second half, Malik Jones (Chicago, IL) made a three-point play on a lay-in and free throw to give the Yellowjackets a one-point lead. However, the Blue Knights would answer with points of their own. RCTC had one last chance with 1.2 seconds on the clock. Jones wound up with the ball at half court and let it fly from there, with the ball clanking off the front of the rim before falling to the floor while the buzzer sounded.

Dakota County won the turnover battle with the Yellowjackets, 14-20. Those 20 RCTC turnovers would lead to 25 points for the Knights and that likely was a deciding factor in the game. Neither team shot the ball from the free throw line. Dakota would shoot 60 percent (20 for 33) while Rochester went for 56 percent (9-16). You’d think since the Knights doubled the number of Jacket free throws, Dakota was more aggressive taking the ball to the basket, and you’d be right.

RCTC seemed content to take shots from the perimeter for most of the night. They would finish the night shooting 46 percent (28 for 60) from the field.  Rochester was six for 17 from beyond the three-point line while the Blue Knights were four of ten.

The Yellowjackets had four of their starting five in double figures on the night. Malik Jones scored 13 while Stillwater product Nick Ogren also had 13 (two for three beyond the arc). Jones was also the top rebounder with 11.

The Yellowjackets are home on Friday night to play Milwaukee Area Technical College in the second game of a doubleheader at 8:00. The women’s game will start at 6.

Highlights from Wednesday night’s game:

RCTC football becomes impromptu family reunion

As long as there’ve been athletic competitions like football, fathers have been taking their sons to games to enjoy a little bonding time.  Most sports fans I know have at least one favorite story of going to games with their dad and hanging out.  Good times with their dads will often lead kids to continue the tradition when they become parents themselves.

RCTC football equals a family reunion

The Rochester Community and Technical College football team beat Minnesota West in its home opener on Saturday, September 3, by a 26-8 score to even the overall season record at 1-1. (photo by Chad Smith

I got to take my two oldest boys with me to the Rochester Community and Technical College football game today.  If you know anything about what my family went through over the last four years, you’d know what a monumental thing that is.  It seems like such a small thing to go to a football game, doesn’t it?   When you haven’t been able to do that thing for a long time due to circumstances beyond your control, that little thing becomes big.

The day was a knockout for a college football game with temps in the 70’s.  There was just enough cloud cover to keep the heat from becoming oppressive, as it’s been known to do in late August/early September.  But no, this was a perfect day to watch football.

I’ll admit, it wasn’t the prettiest game I’ve seen in some time.  There weren’t a lot of big plays for either offense but the Yellowjackets came away with a 26-8 win to even their record at 2-0.  I didn’t recognize a lot of their players from last year’s squad. That team finished runner-up in the national championship game last year.  Last year’s coaching staff is gone too, so it’s going to be a rebuilding year for the Jackets.

I’d love to see those college athletic teams get more support from the Rochester community.  Those kids play hard and the cost to see them play is actually pretty affordable.  The facilities are some of the nicest I’ve seen in all my years of covering sports, so it’s worth the time and a little investment to take in the college atmosphere.

I’ve got a son and wife who are students out to RCTC, so I’m looking forward to getting to know the place a lot better in the months ahead.  Sure, it would be nice to see more Rochester folks out there.  If you’re a sports fan, you’re definitely missing out on some fun.

The offensive struggles made highlights a little harder to come by, but the Yellowjackets offense did find some rhythm in the second half.

RCTC baseball road trip successful

The Rochester Community and Technical College baseball team is already 11 games into the season after a spring trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The Yellowjackets won four of the games down south and played well in others.

As they get set to start the northern portion of their schedule, Jackets head coach Steve Hucke said they played some good baseball in South Carolina. The trip featured games against upper division junior college teams.

RCTC baseball

Rochester Community and Technical College baseball coach Steve Hucke (photo from rctc.edu)

“We beat some good teams,” Hucke said. “We played primarily against junior college Division Two and Division One scholarship teams while we were down there. We beat a very good Cumberland team that usually battles for a shot to get to the national tournament every year.”

The Jackets would have liked to pick up a few more wins on the trip, but Hucke said the benefits of playing against top teams down south would carry through the rest of the season.

“The way we look at it is we want to play a tough schedule to get us prepared for the season up here,” Hucke said. “You learn a lot about your kids and the team, and the players even learn something about themselves too. It’s a win-win no matter what your record is down south.”

Some of the things he picked up down south include the potential for success at the plate. It also includes a team mentality that he’s happy to see.

“We have some good hitters,” said Hucke, “and we also have some depth. We do have to work on some relief pitching, but that’s going to come.

“The thing I learned the most is that this group is very competitive,” Hucke added. “They’re going to battle, and they don’t give up. There were games that we were behind in, but we rallied to pick up wins. I saw some good leadership from our group of sophomores.”

As Hucke filled out his batting order, he saw good production from top to bottom. The lineup is led by a returning All-American.

“We saw good production up and down the lineup,” Hucke said. “Dustin Nelson (C/OF from Mondovi, Wisconsin), a returning All-American from last year, had a good week down south. Damon Nuss (IF/P from Sumner, Iowa) hit the ball well, and so did Austin Baab (IF/P from Wabasha, MN.). Up and down the lineup, we were pretty consistent. If someone wasn’t hitting, someone else stepped up.”

As a two-year junior college program, sophomore leadership is important. He said nowhere is that leadership more apparent than on the pitcher’s mound.

“We’re strong in starting pitching,” Hucke said. “Depth isn’t the problem in our relief staff as we’ve got numbers. The challenge on the trip was having the confidence to go in there and shut somebody down to maintain what we have going.”

RCTC baseball

The RCTC baseball team opens the northern part of it’s spring schedule this week at Iowa Lakes Community College (Photo from rctcbaseball.org)

Defensively, the Yellowjackets made some errors early in the trip down south that may have cost them a game or two. By the end of the week, he said things had cleared up to the point that he’s not worried about their defense.

There are several players from southeast Minnesota who will get playing time this spring. They include:

 

Zachary Bakko of Northfield is a sophomore outfielder.

 

Arron Hohensee of Lewiston is a freshman outfielder.

 

Michael Sigrist of Byron is a freshman outfielder and pitcher. (Hucke said he’s not sure how much playing time Sigrist will receive as he’s battling a shoulder injury.)

 

 

RCTC softball heats up after slow start

RCTC softball heats up

The Yellowjackets softball team will host the CTC tournament this Friday and Saturday at the RCTC dome in Rochester, MN. (photo from myFox47.com)

The Rochester Community and Technical College Yellowjackets softball team is 7-10 on the season. Head Coach Niki Peterson said they’re playing good softball after a slow start to the spring.

The season schedule began with good competition against teams from Iowa, as well as a trip to South Carolina. The Jackets were 0-8 after returning from down south, but have won seven of their past nine games.

“Things have gotten better,” Peterson said. “It’s one of the things I’ve learned coaching junior college softball. It’s a two-year rotation with new people in every year instead of juniors and seniors to lead the way. It takes a little longer for them to acclimate to each other.”

RCTC softball coach Niki Peterson and her Yellowjackets are playing well right now.

RCTC softball coach Niki Peterson’s Yellowjackets have won seven of their last nine games as they get set to host the CTC Classic this Friday and Saturday at the RCTC Dome. (photo from rctcyellowjackets.com

Peterson believes in playing a tougher schedule, which she says makes her team better in the long run. The Yellowjackets didn’t even play an NJCAA Division three team until they returned from South Carolina.

“We played four division two teams in our first tournament,” Peterson said. “We then played Division two, Division one, and one NAIA team when we went on our spring break trip to Myrtle Beach (South Carolina). Our record suffered a little because of it.”

She added, “However, our kids came into the games against the northern schools last week, and we outscored those teams 44-3 in three games.”

After committing multiple defensive errors during the trip south, Coach Peterson said the one area where the team has shown the most improvement is in their defense.

“We were missing McKayla Ahlrich (Sleepy Eye, MN), who’s our starting shortstop,” Peterson said. “She’s a basketball player. It took her a couple games to get comfortable as she hadn’t played since her senior year in high school, but she made a huge difference when she came on.

“We had a ton of errors early in the season,” she said. “We were beating ourselves. We did play some tough competition, but I think we could have hung with them better if our defense was cleaner.”

In addition to the defense, the hitting has picked up considerably as well.

“Christina Stanger (of Stewartville) was one of our leaders at the plate from last year,” Peterson said. “She struggled early on, but has come on hot the last few games. She was seven for ten at the plate with two home runs in the three games last week.”

Injuries are a part of every season and sports, and it’s been no different so far with the Yellowjackets.

“Haley Vanourney (Marion, IA) is one of our captains and one of the best players I’ve ever coached,” Coach Peterson said. “She sustained a concussion during the trip to Myrtle Beach and we lost her for a week. She’s back and swinging the bat well.

“Sammy Hogan (Palatine, IL) hits third in the order for us,” Peterson said, “and she’s been crushing the ball all year. Hogan’s hitting well over .600 for us.

One thing the coaching staff stresses at the plate is getting a quality at bat, no matter what the outcome is. She said the kids are buying into that system.

“It’s okay if you step in and that first pitch isn’t your favorite,” Peterson said. “It’s okay not to swing at it. We were swinging at pitches that might not be our favorites and we were hitting easy-out ground balls or popups. We’re focused on picking out a good pitch to hit and hitting it hard.”

The pitching mound will see some good depth this year. Up to four Yellowjackets may see some time out on the mound.

RCTC softball and pitcher Sammy Hogan are warming up

RCTC softball pitcher Sammy Hogan was named the National Junior College Athletic Association Division Three player of the week on March seventh and 14th. (photo from rctcyellowjackets.com)

“Our top one-two pitchers are Sammy Hogan (two time NJCAA Division Three Player of the Week) and Quincy Gross (Columbia Heights, MN),” Peterson said. “They’re doing well. In her last two starts, Sammy threw a no-hitter and a one-hitter. Quincy is battling a little, but when she’s on, she’s tough. She’s got good movement on her pitches.

She added, “Haley Vanourney will also pitch for us. She’s a nice counterbalance for us. She’s doesn’t throw quite as hard, but has nice movement on her pitches. McKayla Ahlrich will also throw a few pitches as well.”

The Jackets will host the CTC invitational at the RCTC dome this Friday and Saturday. The other teams will include Rainy River Community College, Vermillion Community College, Hibbing Community College, and Madison College.

Here’s the complete Yellowjackets roster:

 

No.   Name        Pos.  B/T  Cl.     Ht.    Hometown/High School

14     McKayla Ahlrich        P/INF                FR            Sleepy Eye, MN / Sleepy Eye

 

20     Kayla Branstad C/INF                FR            Northwood, IA / Northwood-Kensett

 

10     Ashleigh Dralle Utility                SO             Farmington, MN / Randolph

 

16     Brittany Ellis     Outfield             FR            Lansing, IA / Kee High

 

12     Paige Gadient    Utility                SO             Goodhue, MN / Goodhue

 

7       Quincy Gross    P/INF                FR            Columbia Heights, MN / Columbia Heights

 

15     Sammy Hogan  P/INF                SO             Palatine, IL / St. Viator

 

5       Makayla Kaeppel       OF            FR            Hawkeye, IA / North Fayette Valley

 

3       Shantel Loos     Infield               FR            Rochester, MN / Century

 

18     Emmy Miller     INF           SO             Cannon Falls, MN / Cannon Falls

 

13     Jordan O’Connor       OF            SO             Preston, MN / Fillmore-Central

 

4       Christina Stanger      OF            SO             Stewartville, MN / Stewartville

 

1       Haley Vanourney      C/P/INF           SO             Marion, IA / Marion

 

 

 

29 new RCTC Yellowjackets join the football team

National letter of intent signing day has come and gone for the Rochester Community and Technical College Yellowjackets football team, and it was a busy and productive day.

As busy as national signing day can be, it doesn’t necessarily mean the Yellowjackets, runners up in the national playoffs from last year, are done with this year’s recruiting efforts.

Yellowjackets football

RCTC Yellowjackets football coach Bill Quistorff. (Photo from kaaltv.com)

“We worked really hard to get everyone locked in for signing day,” said RCTC head coach Bill Quistorff. “We’ve got about 15 letters of intent that haven’t been signed yet, including some kids on the local level still weighing their options, so it’s a waiting game. All in all, it was a good day.”

The interesting thing about national signing day is it’s really the start of the Yellowjackets target recruiting time.

“Guys are starting to realize they didn’t get recruited by who they wanted to,” said Quistorff, “or maybe their grades didn’t work out. I think we’re sitting pretty good, and the best is yet to come.”

Recruiting future football players at a two-year community college is a different animal than at a four-year university, especially when it comes to the demographic of the players they target.

“Typically, at a community college, the targets are kids who are struggling in the classroom,” said Coach Q, “and can’t take advantage of any four year opportunities in front of them. We also take a look at kids who may have fallen through the cracks, and didn’t get the exposure they thought they should have.”

Four-year programs are typically looking for kids who are program guys. Quistorff said they’re typically guys who are locked into the classroom and they know what it takes to be successful. They also tend to be some of the best athletes out there, so coaches consider them the total package.

“That means we’re looking for a little bit less developed total package,” said Quistorff, himself a former Yellowjackets player. “But we also go after the total package, including some kids who may have opportunities at a four-year school as a preferred walk-on. We come in and ask if they’d like to turn that into a full scholarship opportunity instead.”

He adds, “It’s a great opportunity for those kids if they play a year of junior college football. That’s how we’ve gotten a lot of good players over the years.”

Quistorff said it’s been proven to be a successful route to a scholarship over the years. Several now former Yellowjackets have either signed scholarship offers or are currently looking at different options.

 

The Yellowjackets recruit players from all over the nation, but they always keep an eye on southeast Minnesota talent. This year was no exception as several local kids signed with the Jackets.

 

The Yellowjackets try to keep recruiting as local as possible, but they do go far and wide around the country to fill their roster from season to season. They build the foundation of the program from local talent as well as regional talent from the states surrounding Minnesota.

“After that, we go around the country and pick and pull from other connections we have around the country,” said Coach Q. “We bring in good people who are also good athletes, and that’s what the main focus of our recruiting at RCTC is.”

Recruiting in college football has developed into a year-round process. Coach Q said it’s no different at RCTC. After home games, coaches can often be seen shaking hands with high school football players that may make good Yellowjackets. As a result, recruiting never really stops.

“Most coaches will tell you it’s (recruiting) a sick addiction,” said Quistorff, “and there’s no rehab for it. We’re basically recruiting year around, and it’s an enjoyable process.”

Here’s the full conversation with Coach Q:

 

Here is the complete list of new Yellowjackets:

Devaughn Brown – 6’4 235lb Tight End from Thibodaux, LA

Daytona Chandler – 6’5 200lb Quarterback from Rockton, IL

Andre Chisley – 6’2 230lb Linebacker from Hopkins, MN

Dominique Copeland – 6’1 180lb Linebacker from LaGrange, GA

Jalen Davis – 5’10 190lb Running Back from Statesboro, GA

Elray Duncan – 6’2 175lb Wide Receiver from Thibodaux, LA

Timothy Echoles – 5’9 175lb Wide Receiver from Park Forest, IL

Emmanuel Ehrich – 6’1 215lb Linebacker from Maple Grove, MN

Bryan Goehring-Reinhart – 6’0 215lb Fullback/Tight End from St. Michael, MN

Deandre Hodroff – 6’0 235lb Linebacker from Minneapolis, MN

Deidrick Jones – 5’11 160lb Defensive Back from Brenham, TX

Matthew Kallis – 5’9 196lb Linebacker from Rochester, MN

Daniel Kohler – 5’10 220lb Fullback from Redwood Valley, MN

Luis Maldonado – 6’0 270lb Offensive Lineman from Buena, NJ

Avery McMullin – 6’2 195lb Quarterback from Smyrna, DE

Otumos Payemanu – 5’9 17l0lb WR/ATH from Cottage Grove, MN

Brandon Perce – 5’11 230lb Linebacker from Milwaukee, WI

Delfontay Powell – 5’11 170lb WR/DB from New Roads, LA

Rae’Quan Powell – 5’10 170lb Wide Receiver from New Roads, LA

Treevon Prater – 6’2 185lb Defensive Back from East St. Louis, IL

Gavin Pruett – 6’0 185lb Quarterback from Capistrano Valley, CA

William Rains – 5’11 220lb Running Back from Eden Prairie, MN

Tyler Rempel – 6’4 185lb Wide Receiver from Watertown, MN

Antonio Rodriguez – 6’1 275lb Offensive Lineman from Buena, NJ

Chase Salerno – 6’1 170lb Punter From Chatfield, MN

Patrick Sparkman – 6’4 275lb Offensive Lineman from St. Charles, MO

Delshon Spratt – 6’1 195lb Defensive Back from Lee Summit, MO

Connor Stenberg – 6’0 173lb Kicker from Stewartville, MN

Jamal Stovall – 6’0 185lb Defensive Back from Champaign, IL

Derric Tiller – 6’4 215lb Wide Receiver from Rapid City, SD

Bobby Joe Willoughby – 5’11 188lb Linebacker from LaGrange, GA

Ronald Wilson – 6’1 230 Defensive Linemen/Linebacker from Lee County, GA

NOTES:

Rains was a starter on Eden Prairie’s 2014 MN Class 6A state championship team, rushing for 230 yards and 2 TDs in the state championship game vs. Totino Grace. Finished his senior year with 1,604 yards and 37 total touchdowns. 1st Team All-State, 2-time Star Tribune All-Metro Team, and a finalist for 2014 Minnesota Mr. Football. Finished his career with over 5500 yards and 72 total touchdowns…..Pruett was a 1st team All-League QB in California. Set school records for yards passing, TDs, and completion percentage…… Payemanu was a do everything athlete for East Ridge H.S. Played Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receiver, and Defensive Back and helped lead his team to the MN Class 6A State Championship game. Turned down preferred walk offers from South Dakota State and the University Minnesota….Maldonado was a two-time All-Conference OL in New Jersey…..Kohler was a 4 year starter for Redwood Valley H.S…..Chandler was a 4-year letterwinner and was recruited by NDSU, Western Illinois, and Ball State before suffering a collarbone injury his senior year….Stenberg set the school record at Stewartville for PAT made in a year (48) and career (67)…..McMullin is a transfer from Football Championship Subdivision school Delaware State…… Duncan was a 1st team All-District and Honorable Mention All-State in Louisana his senior year in 2014…..Prater signed with Syracuse and had offers from 9 other Division 1 schools out of high school. 1st team All-Conference, had over 20 career interceptions in high school……Chisley was a 2-time All-Conference player, Team Defensive MVP, and had over 300 career tackles while at Hopkins High School……Ehrich is a bounceback from South Dakota State University. Was a two-time All-Conference and a member of the 2013 All-State Team for Minnesota…..Tiller was a 1st team All-Conference and led the state of South Dakota in catches, yards per catch, and was 2nd in touchdowns…..Brown was a 1st Team All-Regional and 1st Team All-District in Louisiana….Collier had 1800 all-purpose yards his senior year, and was named 1st Team All-State in Illinois….Goehring-Reinhart was a starting fullback for MN Class 5A state champion St. Michael-Albertville….

Here’s some highlights I put together from a big game with Central Lakes College last season:

RCTC football chasing another crown

The Rochester Community and Technical College Yellowjackets are back in the state championship game for the 19th time in the past 20 years.

Rochester Community and Technical College

RCTC football coach Bill Quistorff leads his team into the Minnesota Collegiate Athletic Conference title game on Sunday against the North Dakota State College of Science. Kickoff is at 1 in Husky Stadium on the St Cloud State campus. (photo from rctc.edu.com)

The Jackets will take on the North Dakota State College of Science on Sunday. Kickoff at Husky Stadium on the St Cloud State campus is at 1:00. RCTC comes into the game as defending Minnesota Collegiate Athletic Conference champions. Yellowjackets head coach Bill Quistorff said battling for a state championship never gets old.

“No, it sure doesn’t,” Quistorff said. “It definitely is becoming an expectation for us every year, not only to make that conference championship game, but to win it. This is what we’ve worked so hard to get into, and now it’s championship week, and we’ve got a great opportunity to win the game and move on to bigger things.”

19 championship games in 20 years is an amazing streak of success, and he talked about the keys to sustaining that success year after year.

“In my opinion, it’s the family atmosphere we provide,” Quistorff said. We talk a lot about working hard so your brother gets what he deserves, and ultimately, you’ll get what you deserve in the end too. We’re very selfless, and we work hard for each other.”

The winning traditions at RCTC are also due to people who played for the team staying in the program.

“Keeping that Jacket blood running thick through the program and into the coaching staff is something that’s going to carry on those traditions for years to come,” Quistorff said.

Coach Q is in a unique position in the program, competing for the MCAC title as both a player and a coach.

“As a player, it’s a lot easier to suit up and go play,” Quistorff said. “If you win, that’s great, and if you lose, at least as a player, you know you left it all on the field. As a coach, going into it after all the preparation, you almost feel kind of helpless when you turn them loose on the field because the players now have to go and win the game.”

The rest of the conversation with Coach Q, including his thoughts on facing NDSCS on Sunday, is here:

 

 

 

RCTC Yellowjackets football team at midseason

The Rochester and Community Technical College Yellowjackets football team is 4-0 on the year after a convincing 76-7 win over Vermillion Community College last weekend.

Rochester Community and Technical College

Yellowjackets head coach Bill Quistorff watches from the sidelines during a recent home win over Central Lakes College (Photo by Chad Smith)

Quarterback Nick Rooney led the way, throwing for 311 yards and 5 touchdowns.  The second quarter was the difference, as The Yellowjackets outscored Vermillion 35-0 in that frame alone.

The RCTC offense put up 577 yards of offense on 68 plays, but the defense also played exceptionally well, allowing Vermillion to put up only 130 total yards on just 48 plays from scrimmage.

 

I caught up with Jackets coach Bill Quistorff and talked about the first half of an unbeaten season, plus looked ahead to this week’s action at Itasca Community College.  The Yellowjackets close the second half of the year with 3 of their last 4 games on the road.

 

Rochester Community and Technical College

The RCTC Yellowjackets defense, pictured here during a win over Central Lakes Community College earlier in the season, allowed only 130 yards of total offense last week to Vermillion Community College during their homecoming win in Rochester. (Photo by Chad Smith)

 

RCTC softball gearing up for the postseason

YellowjacketsThe Rochester Community and Technical College softball team is 27-14 on the season and ranked at number four in the national Division 3 top ten as they finish the regular season schedule on Thursday, April 30, hosting a doubleheader with Riverland College, a team the Yellowjackets swept in their first matchup back in early April.

The 27 wins so far have come in spite of having a very young roster and a first-year head coach in Niki Peterson. The Jackets took a doubleheader from Minnesota West Community and Technical College to start the final week of the regular season on Tuesday. Peterson said they played well.

RCTC softball coach Niki Peterson (Photo from rctcyellowjackets.com)

RCTC softball coach Niki Peterson (Photo from rctcyellowjackets.com)

“It’s helps when your pitching is that on,” said Peterson. “We hit the ball well, and we’ve done that most of the season, except when we’ve faced some of the tougher Division One and Division Two competition. Overall, our hitting has been pretty solid all year.”

She said the Yellowjackets are a threat to take the ball deep up and down the lineup.

8 of the 9 players in the RCTC starting lineup have at least one home run (Photo from rctcyellowjackets.com)

8 of the 9 players in the RCTC starting lineup have at least one home run (Photo from rctcyellowjackets.com)

“I think everyone in our starting lineup but one has at least one home run,” said Peterson. “We have power, but we also have some speed on the base paths. Ashley Bunting (Redwood Falls, MN) is actually leading the nation in stolen bases with 62.”

The roster doesn’t contain a lot of experience at the college level. “We only have five sophomores on the roster,” said Peterson, “and only four are in our starting lineup. The other one is out with a torn ACL.”

“Coming in as a first year head coach, I just didn’t know what to expect,” said Peterson. “I knew the sophomore class because I was an assistant coach last year, and I knew their capabilities. With all the knew faces coming in and they weren’t my recruits, I just didn’t know a lot about them.”

Peterson added, “Two of our best players this spring are walk-ons. Kristen Erickson is a J-M (Rochester John Marshall) graduate who I actually recruited two years ago, but she took a year off and came back. Amber Gehrke is a Zumbrota-Mazeppa graduate who reached out to me and said she’d just been attending school and decided she wanted to play.”

On-field leadership is coming from a recent Stewartville high school graduate.

“Christina Stanger is a freshman who plays like a four-year senior,” said Peterson. “She leads this team off the field and on the field too. She leads vocally, physically, and keeps the team in the game mentally. She’s an all-around leader, and to have her doing that as a freshman is great for me as a coach, but it’s also great to have her for another season.”

One of the sophomore leaders is catcher Katie Gatzlaff, a native of Springfield, Minnesota.  Peterson said, “Katie runs the show behind the plate, and the team relies on her experience for leadership out on the field at gametime.”

A deep pitching staff is another strength of this spring’s team.

“We actually have five pitchers,” said Peterson. “They’re all very capable and could be starters for other teams in our conference. The two leaders on the staff are Alexis Schunke (Stewartville MN) and Laura Chalmers (Red Wing MN). Alexis actually threw a perfect game in our second win over Minnesota West on Tuesday.”

Peterson added, “She was just on. She hit her spots, and that was obviously the best she’s thrown all year.”

The Yellowjackets head to postseason action after the final doubleheader on April 30.

“We’re off to regions,” said Peterson. “It’s next week, on May 7 and 8. The conference champion will host the tournament, so as games wrap up this week, we’ll find out where we’re going.”

Update:  The YellowJackets finished the season by sweeping Minnesota West in a doubleheader, winning game one 11-1, before taking the nightcap 19-3 to finish the season at 29-14.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RCTC baseball ready for conference play

The Rochester Community and Technical College baseball team is 15-6 on the season after splitting a doubleheader with Iowa Central Community College this week, winning the opener 7-4 before dropping the nightcap 5-3.

The Yellowjackets will play back-to-back doubleheaders this weekend, at Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids on Saturday, April 18, before returning home to face St. Cloud Technical and Community College on Sunday. Rochester head coach Steve Hucke said the Jackets will face some good competition this year in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference.

RCTC baseball coach Steve Hucke is in his 12th season with the school, and sports a 228-208 career record. (photo from RCTC.edu)

RCTC baseball coach Steve Hucke is in his 13th season with the school, and sports a 240-230-1 career record. (photo from RCTC.edu)

“Our conference is split into north and south divisions,” said Hucke, “and the south division is really competitive. St. Cloud Tech (Sunday’s opponent, weather permitting) has been to the Junior College World Series two of the last three years; we’ve been to the World Series, Riverland Community College in Austin has been to the World Series, so the southern part of the state is very competitive.”

Pitching is a big key to the success of the Yellowjackets so far.

 

 

The pitching staff can strike batters out consistently, but recently have been putting the ball in play and letting their fielders make plays behind them.

“It’s gone back and forth, like earlier this week, it was more about putting the ball in play and letting the defense play behind them,” said Hucke. “We’re getting good help defensively, and I think the pitchers are throwing with more confidence and not afraid to attack hitters because we’re making the routine plays as well as some big plays too.”

The Jackets don’t have a lot of experience up and down this spring’s roster.

“We’re a young team with a lot of freshmen out there,” said Hucke, “But they’ve adapted pretty well and are starting to step up their game more. They’ve got a good confidence level going now.”

“Usually, we have a good mix of sophomores to go with freshmen,” said Hucke. “We usually have about 12 to 15 sophomores and about that same amount of freshmen on the roster. Unfortunately, we had a few kids decide to go somewhere else and not play baseball and just go to school. Now, we’re down to seven sophomores, and of that seven, I’d say four are our main contributors.”

The 2015 Yellowjackets roster features players from southeast Minnesota, as well as Iowa, and even as far away as New York.

“We get kids from this area as well as around Rochester,” said Hucke. “I’m originally from Iowa and I get some players from there, and we get some kids from Wisconsin. We have a few kids from the Twin Cities, and even a couple from New York, wherever we can find them.”

Pitching and defense are strengths of the team, but Hucke said the offense is going pretty well too.

“We’re batting over 300 as a team,” said Hucke. “We’re getting a lot of good quality at-bats, moving guys over and getting them into scoring position. In situational hitting, we’re doing very well. We put a lot of pressure on  RCTC baseballdefenses by having guys on base all the time.”

“We’re going deep into the count too,” said Hucke, “and making pitchers pitch well and not chasing bad pitches. When you have a young group and can get those kinds of at-bats, you’re successful. With freshmen, you’re always worried about them coming in and being free swingers and falling back into bad habits.”

Hucke talked about Saturday’s opponent and what they’ll see from Anoka-Ramsey: