Austin duo chips in for Eagan squad

Published 7:13 pm Friday, July 15, 2011

Danielle Tschann and Jenni Yocum have been finding a whole new success playing for a fastpitch softball team in Eagan. The duo are hoping to to carry over this success to next year's Austin Packers softball season. -- Eric Johnson/

The summer couldn’t have worked out much better for Austin softball players Jenni Yocom and Danielle Tschann — they were looking for a solid team to play on and the Eagan Wildcats were looking for a pitcher and a catcher.

Yocom, a pitcher who will be a junior at Austin High School this fall, and Tschann, a catcher who will be a senior at Austin this fall, played for Eagan all season and they will now play in the 16 and under Minnesota Metro League Fastpitch state tournament, which their team recently qualified for.

Tschann and Yocom are the only players on the team who aren’t from Eagan, and they joined the team after Yocom’s dad, Jeff Yocom, put the two players’ profiles up on a Web Site meant to draw interest from summer softball teams.

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It wasn’t long before the two Austin girls were surrounded by new teammates in the middle of the metro.

“I wanted a new experience and I just wanted to get more playing time,” Jenni Yocom said. “The way it was, I wasn’t getting a lot of playing time. Plus it was a good experience getting to know a new team.”

The two newcomers from Austin clicked with their squad instantly.

“We have better communication as a team,” Tschann said. “We all get along really well and we all have a good attitude towards the game. They’re all willing to work hard and get better, other than just making the same mistakes.”

It didn’t hurt that Yocom and Tschann have become major contributors for Eagan, which is 10-4-3 overall.

Yocom is 5-2-2 on the mound with an ERA of 2.05 and 63 strikeouts. Her best performance came when she struck out 10 and allowed just one baserunner in a 12-0 win over Lakeville. At the plate, she has an on-base percentage of .426.

Tschann is hitting .468 with an on-base percentage of .545. She has also thrown out 19 runners from behind the plate.

Eagan head coach Dan Beekman said both players have mixed in well as they’ve brought different personalities to the mix.

“They helped fill a couple of holes and they made us a little more competitive. They both play to win, which is good and I enjoy having them on the team,” Beekman said. “Danielle has gotten better at calling the game and she keeps runners on the bases honest. Jenni is much improved from the beginning of the season and she’s got her confidence up. She gives us a chance to win every time she’s out there.”

Winning has become something Tschann and Yocom have come to embrace. After coming off a season where the Packers were 5-15 overall, the Austin duo has found out what it’s like to win consistently with Eagan.

“We have more fun, we perform better and we work well as a team,” Yocom said. “I feel more confident and I feel like my team wants me to be there. I don’t get as nervous when the ball gets hit, because I have people behind to me to back me up.”

The winning and playing in a very competitive league has helped both players improve drastically over the last month – their batting averages have risen and Yocom is learning some new pitches. Yocom has also played first base, second base and outfield, while Tschann has played some first base.

While playing in the Tri-County League has had a big impact on Tschann and Yocom’s progress, they also spend a lot of their spare time in the batting cage and Tschann is attending two softball camps.

“We’re usually busy every weekend, so you’ve got to be pretty committed to be doing this,” Tschann said.

While workout partners would be nice, it’s usually just Tschann and Yocom who are putting in the extra time over the summer.

“There’s not very many people with the heart to want to work out during the offseason,” Yocom said. “But we’ve both improved so much this past month.”

One thing is for sure; Yocom and Tschann are not planning on having another five-win season when softball season rolls around next spring in Austin.

“It will go better,” Tschann said. “We’ll make it better.”

Yocom will play volleyball in the fall, but she also plans to play in some dome league and fall league softball. Tschann is thinking about playing soccer in the fall, and she’ll continue to play basketball.

After that, Tschann is hoping to get noticed by some college scouts. She’s already heard form a mix of Division II and Division III schools and she’d love to play at the Division I level.