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Crowell leader on the field and in the statbook

Kayla Crowell waits for an at-bat during the 2017 game against Anoka Ramsey at Riverland Community College in Austin. (Eric Johnson/ Austin Daily Herald)

After being named captain of the Riverland Community College softball team in her freshman season, Hancock native Kayla Crowell filled the stat sheet in the 2017 season. She doesn’t plan to sit back on cruise control for her second year.

“My goal in the off season and for next season are to become a better player, have fun and continue to improve both individually and as a team,” Crowell said.

Crowell chose Riverland because of its location, southwest of Rochester, and it gave her a chance to continue playing a sport she enjoys.

“At the time, Riverland was the ideal location and part of the state I wanted to be in. I knew I wanted to play softball in college and Riverland offered me my major and the opportunity to play,” said Crowell, who is pursuing criminal justice and law enforcement at Riverland.

Riverland softball had only four wins in 2017, but head coach Jason Heller argues the record doesn’t necessarily show how close some games actually were.

“As a full team we struggled finishing games,” Heller said. “We were in so many of those losses with just a bad bounce here or errant throw there that we could've won several more games. I had to play many girls out of positions, which I know didn't help, but not a one of them complained about learning a new position.”

Despite the team not doing well, Crowell made strides both offensively and as a catcher on defense.

“I only had a couple of positions that I never had to worry about, one of them was catcher,” Heller said. “Kayla did a great job calling the game.”

Offensively, Crowell led the team in batting average (.421), tied for first in hits, and had twice the amount of RBI as any other player on the team with 21. She also hit two home runs in 2017.

“Even better with the power that Kayla has she only struck out three times all year,” Heller said.

A highlight for Crowell was hitting her first college home run along with, “beating the No. 4 team in the nation by seven runs.”

Crowell expects the team to be more successful in 2018.

“We have room for improvement, but we are bringing in a lot of new players next year that are athletic and have a lot of potential,” Crowell said of the 2018 season.

Individually, Heller has expectations for Crowell to continue to improve and make the all-conference team in 2018.

“I fully expect Kayla to play other positions other than catcher, maybe first base or a little third or being a DH in some instances,” Heller said of Kayla’s contributions in the upcoming 2018 season. “[I also expect] her to also make the Southern Division all-conference team. She almost made it this year and I only would expect her to get better. If she puts in the time this summer, fall, and winter, it is going to pay huge dividends for her and the team.”

Brooke Kern

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