Packer catcher hoping to step up

Austin catcher Danielle Tschann has made her commitment to play softball at the University of St. Thomas next year and she will look to lead the Packers this spring. -- Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

As Austin senior catcher Danielle Tschann prepares for her upcoming season for the Packers softball team, she can finally relax.

She doesn’t have to worry about trying to impress anyone or wonder which colleges may or may not be giving her a look. That’s because Tschann, who hit .340 and was a strong defensive force for Austin last spring, has already made her commitment to play softball at Division III St. Thomas University, which is located in St. Paul, next season.

“St. Thomas just seemed to fit and I wanted to stay in Minnesota. They have a really good softball program and a good school, which is more important,” said Tschann, who had also considered going to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse or Iowa State. “They’re almost like a family. They call me almost weekly and talk about different things and it doesn’t always have to be about softball.”

The Tommies have been one of the Division III’s premiere softball programs as of late as they won back-to-back NCAA titles in 2004 and 2005 and finished second in the NCAA in 2006.

Last season, the Tommies went 42-6 overall and head coach John Tschida was named MIAC coach of the year.

“St. Thomas is a great program, so I’m definitely going to have to work my way up,” Tschann said. “It’s no walk on, but it’s definitely going to be a challenge and I’m up to it. It’s almost like a second job in a way, but I love it and I’m so excited to have an opportunity to play for another four years.”

St. Thomas head coach John Tschida said that he has worked with Tschann at softball camps in the past and he’s looking forward to her playing for the Tommies.

“Danielle has good natural strength and is a very competitive person who doesn’t like to lose. When she channels this competitive fire, she will be delightfully surprised how much better she will become,” Tschida said. “With her 6 foot frame, she has the ability to not only catch for us, but has the versatility to play first base and become a dangerous power hitter. We look forward to having someone as smart, talented and as competitive as Danielle in our program.”

Before she moves on to the next level, Tschann would like to leave her mark with the Packers, who were 5-15 overall last season, but graduated just two players from that squad. She worked on her game over the past summer when she hit over .500 for the Eagan 16 and under softball team that advanced to the North American Fastpitch Association Northern.

Tschann hopes to have a little more power to her swing this year and she’d like to play for a winning team.

“My goal is always to get better than last season. My batting has improved, but we’ll see how it goes,” she said. “I hope to make other people better. This program is so young and I want to do my part as a senior catcher. I want to get these girls at a level they should be playing at and make this program what it should be.”

Austin head softball coach Tina Strauss has worked with Tschann since she was a freshman and she said the team gets a big lift from their catcher.

“She brings a lot of experience and she works really hard in the offseason. I expect her bat to be a major contribution to her team this year as well as her leadership,” Strauss said.

The Packers will open their season at Winona April 10 and their home opener is April 17 against Owatonna.

Tschann will play this summer for the Mankato Peppers in the Minnesota Metro Fastpitch League.

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