Jacks Prep for NISC Tournament

Brayden Byers, Managing Editor

“Not over yet … one more weekend!”

That’s what Jackrabbit softball coach Kristina McSweeney wrote on Twitter Sunday after South Dakota State earned a bid into the Postseason National Invitational Softball Championship (NISC).

The Jacks will take on the Texans of Tarleton State at 2 p.m. CT in Fort Collins, Colorado Thursday, May 18 in the first round of the double-elimination format tourney.

“It’s an incredible opportunity. Not shabby teams out there, either. We’re going to be tested by several, you know that it’s a good field, a strong field.” Said McSweeney.

That field consists of eight teams that showcases two four-team pods. The winners of both the winner’s brackets and loser’s brackets advance to a single-elimination bracket. SDSU is grouped in with Tarleton State, Iowa and UC Davis.

The berth into the NISC comes after an exit in the Summit League championship game. In a game that started Saturday and ended, with the majority being played, Sunday, the Jackrabbits fell to Omaha 1-0. The Mavericks got the automatic bid to the NCAA and are on their way to Baton Rouge, Louisiana

“It was a very challenging very mentally, physically, emotionally exhausting weekend.” Said McSweeney, “I mean, that’s just the best way to put it. Disappointing, of course, how we finished.”

The coach said, however, she did take many positives away from the experience.

“Rozelyn Carrillo, holy moly, what a weekend, put on a display at shortstop. Defensively, huge performance by Shannon Lasey to get us to the next game. Brooke Dumont threw out Omaha’s two biggest run threats. And then you can’t not talk about Tori Kniesche’s performance.”

That performance from Kniesche was a complete game two hit loss that saw the exceptional hurler throw 115 pitches.

The matchup against Tarleton State Thursday will be the third game the Jacks have played against the Texans this year after taking part in the Oklahoma State/Tulsa Invitational in early March.

Jocelyn Carrillo earned the shared batting champion title after finishing the Summit League season with a .420 average. She also finished second in on-base percentage (.508) and doubles (7) while ranking sixth in RBIs (16). The All-Summit League First Team selection did all this playing only 17 conference games.

Mia Jarecki hit a team-high .354 and paced the team in home runs with seven, hits with 57 and runs with 43. Playing in 50 regular season games, she finished in the top four players in the League in all four categories joining Carillo on the All-League First Team.

Jocelyn’s sister Rozelyn also contributed to the offense in big ways hitting .407 through the conference schedule crossing the plate 17 times and totaling seven extra-base hits notching her a spot on the Summit First Team.

Tori Kniesche was the teams ace throughout the season. The Summit League Pitcher of the Year allowed only one run, which was of the unearned variety, over 76 2/3 innings in the Summit season. She leads the country in shutouts with 13 along with ranking seventh in strikeouts with 236 and 14th in wins with 22.

Shannon Lasey was a valuable second pitcher touting a 15-6 record with a 3.13 ERA. The Summit League honorable mention struck out 115 batters walking 67 of them in 30 appearances.

In the two teams March 3 matchup, Alexa Williams led the team on offense with three hits with Rozelyn Carillo helping to drive in three of the 11 runs. Lasey allowed only three hits in the complete game shutout. The next day, homeruns bolstered the Jacks 3-2 lead through six innings. Kniesche and Williams only allowed four hits combined for Tarleton. The Texans are 30-27 this season.

The Jacks also have matched up with Iowa as recently as the 2022 season. They met in San Diego in February of last year in a game the yellow and blue lost 2-1. Iowa is 31-27 overall this year.

The Jackrabbit softball team has never played UC Davis. The aggies are 29-20 overall entering the tournament.

The rest of the field consists of Maryland, BYU, CSUN and San Jose State.

This is the third time South Dakota State has been a part of the NISC Tournament previously competing in 2018 and 2019. The Jacks went 3-2 and lost to the eventual champion LMU in 2018. The next year, SDSU played in three games finishing with a 1-2 overall.

This will be the first postseason tournament with McSweeney at the helm and she says this is a great opportunity to compete, but to also look forward to next year.

“Now we have we have four, hopefully, hopefully, extra games to put in. What our future lineup is going to look like, what our thought process is with our pitching rotation. And, you know, just to see some kids in some different positions.”

All games of the tournament will be streamed on YouTube through Triple Crown Sports. Live stats are available and can be found on GoJacks.com. as well as at the Tournament Central website. You can also follow along with updates at Collegian Sports on Twitter as well as The Collegian on Facebook.