College Softball: CLC opens Monday in South Carolina

For a team coming off a Region 13B championship and a seventh-place finish in the NJCAA Division III National Tournament, 2017 will be a year of new beginnings for the Central Lakes College Raiders.

Austin Ray
Austin Ray

For a team coming off a Region 13B championship and a seventh-place finish in the NJCAA Division III National Tournament, 2017 will be a year of new beginnings for the Central Lakes College Raiders.

CLC finished 25-7 overall and won the Northern Division with an 11-1 mark. Only Hannah Munsch and Rachel Mathias return from that team, and first-year head coach Ray Austin replaces MCAC Coach of the Year Donnie Tizzano, who resigned following last season.
On Monday, the Raiders will open the 2017 campaign in the Fastpitch Dreams Classic at Myrtle Beach, S.C., against SUNY Adirondack. CLC will play nine games in Myrtle Beach before returning to Minnesota to play in the MCAC Crossover Classic at Rochester March 25.
Austin was an assistant coach on last year's team, and CLC athletic director Jim Russell approached him about becoming head coach after Tizzano announced he would be leaving.

"I found out late in last year's season when Donnie decided to go back to Arizona," said Austin. "Jim had talked to me about taking over the job. I am not a CLC employee aside from softball. It has been a lot of balancing my home life and my work life."

Carlie Sweet will be Austin's assistant. They are working with a young roster that contains just 12 players.

"We only have two returning players in Rachel and Hannah," Austin said. "Hannah was a corner infielder for us and we are moving her to shortstop and hitting in the middle of the lineup. Rachel was an outfielder last year and will be back there along with hitting in the middle of the lineup. We rely on those two for our leadership.


"Rachel has been to three national championship tournaments (two in volleyball) and we hope to get her there for her fourth. We have a really light bench with 10 kids on the roster right now. It makes writing out the lineup pretty easy, but we have to be healthy and we have to do our jobs."

With a number of indoor practices before heading to South Carolina, Austin is in his comfort zone as a Brainerd High School graduate and native Minnesotan working with players on the fundamentals during their time indoors.

"The first fly balls that we see may be before our first game, but the inside stuff allows us to set up a lot more specialization," he said. "We are able to set up hitting stations and work on specific things. We walk through our cutoffs and talk about where outfielders go on balls to the fence. We work on situations. It's all I have ever known having grown up here."

Last year's CLC team was strong on pitching with Autumn Roberts being a first-team all-division pitcher. The Raiders hope to have that as a strength again in 2017 with a new core of pitchers.
"We really hope that our pitching is our strength," Austin said. "We have two freshmen pitchers, Kayla Larson from Isle, who is a hard-throwing right-hander with four pitches, and Andrea Wagoner from Geneseo, Ill. She was a late-summer addition and she is a really good pitcher."

There are also a number of local players on the roster.

"We have a lot of Brainerd kids along with Maddy Stall and Hannah and that is great because I have worked with them in the past." Austin said. "We have Kaye Smude and Stall who are both going to catch and play some outfield. Brandl Burbach will play some infield along with Katelyn Waytashek from Pierz."

Raiders roster

No., name, year, position, high school


1-Kaye Smude, 1, C/OF Brainerd

3-Kelsey Platz, 1, IF/OF, Springfield

5-Kayla Larson, 1P/OF, Isle

6-Baylee Grenier, Utility, Bottineau, N.D.

8-Hannah Munsch, 2, SS Brainerd

9-Maddy Stall, 1, C/OF Brainerd

10-Brandi Burbach, 1, 2B Brainerd

12-Rachel Mathias, 2, OF/1B Heron Lake


16-Lindsey Bennett, 2, 1B/PNevis

20-Katelyn Waytashek, 1, 3B/OF Pierz

22-Andrea Wagoner, 1, P/OF/IF Geneseo, Ill.

23-Summer Bond, 1, IF/P St. Paul Johnson

Raiders schedule

March 13, SUNY Adirondack at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 2:30 p.m.

March 13, Pitt CC at Myrtle Beach, 4:30 p.m.

March 14, South Suburban College at Myrtle Beach, 8:30 a.m.
March 14, St. Louis CC at Myrtle Beach, 10:30 a.m.


March 15, Rend Lake College at Myrtle Beach, 10:30 a.m.

March 15, SUNY Adirondack at Myrtle Beach, 12:30 p.m.

March 16, Rend Lake College at Myrtle Beach, 8:30 a.m.

March 16, Genesee CC at Myrtle Beach, 12:30 p.m.

March 17, North Central Missouri College, 10:30 a.m.

March 25, St. Cloud Technical in MCAC Crossover at Rochester, 11 a.m.

March 25, Anoka-Ramsey in MCAC Crossover, 5 p.m.

March 25, vs. Rochester in MCAC Crossover, 7 p.m.


April 1, Rainy River in CLC Classic 10:30 a.m.

April 1, Itasca in CLC Classic 2:30 p.m.

April 14, North Dakota State College of Science 1 p.m. (2)

April 15, Bill McBride Invitational at Grand Rapids 11 a.m. (3)

April 22, at Northland noon (2)

April 23, at Rainy River noon (2)

April 26, Mesabi Range 3 p.m. (2)

April 29, Itasca noon (2)


April 30, Hibbing noon (2)

May 3, at Vermilion 3 p.m. (2)

May 6-7, MCAC Conference Tournament at Brainerd

May 11-12, Region 13B Tournament

May 18-20, NJCAA Division III National Tournament at Rochester

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