Jackson senior Jayna Cutsinger has been playing softball for almost her entire life, and she will continue to do so for at least two more years at Three Rivers Community College.
Cutsinger signed with Three Rivers last week after an all-conference, all-district campaign in her final season as an Indian.
“Their program is getting really good, and I saw that they went to nationals last year,” Cutsinger said. “That really opened up my eyes about junior college softball. I always wanted to go to a big Division-I school, and then I realized that doing JUCO is much more of a benefit for me.”
One of the benefits for Cutsinger will be not having to pay for the general education classes she will take in her two years at Three Rivers. She plans on becoming a nurse.
Cutsinger said she wants to be a nurse because she has always liked taking care of people.
As a senior, Cutsinger led Jackson to an overall record of 14-9, setting team highs in batting average (.441), on base percentage (.552) and runs batted in (27). She was second in home runs with five as well as runs at 21.
Cutsinger said she accomplished all of the goals she set for herself this season, and one of them was to make the Jackson softball program better.
The Indians earned a first-round bye for the Class 4 District 1 Tournament and played in the semifinals for a second-straight season.
After attending Three Rivers, Cutsinger said she will only continue to play softball if she receives an offer. She said it wouldn’t hurt her if she didn’t because then she would be able to primarily focus on nursing.
Jackson Head Coach Josh Roach said he will certainly miss having Cutsinger as his team’s third baseman and No. 3 hitter in the batting lineup. When Roach entered the program, he always knew Cutsinger had the potential to play at the college level.
“She has grown a lot from being a raw player with a lot of natural ability to actually learning how to play her position at third base and becoming comfortable with it,” Roach said. “There’s not really a whole lot she can’t do on the softball field.”
Roach said it could take Cutsinger a little time to adjust to playing in college with the caliber of pitching she’ll face.
However, Coach Roach said that Cutsinger often sees that type of pitching while playing in summer leagues, so he’s confident she can adjust quickly.
“Playing third base, I feel that I haven’t perfected it, but I’m getting better at what you actually do at that position,” Cutsinger said. “It’s taught me a lot in trusting myself and what my abilities are, and trusting myself to do what I can do in games in certain situations to change the outcome.”
Two years ago, former Indians center fielder Sophie Wunderlich signed with Three Rivers and helped lead the program to the Junior College World Series. The Lady Raiders recorded their best record in school history at 44-16 overall.
Wunderlich played in 52 games while recording a .273 batting average, 41 hits and 21 RBIs. She also finished with a .939 fielding percentage with seven errors.
“Coach [Jeff] Null does a great job — he’s building a really good program there,” Roach said. “I’m excited that Jay is going to be a part of it. I think they’re going to be really good again this year.”
At Three Rivers, Cutsinger said she is looking forward to starting her education but also having fun because she knows a lot of people who attend the college.
Cutsinger said what she loves about softball the most is being able to interact with the people she meets in any program she’s a part of.
“My teammates and coaches have taught me life lessons that don’t have to include softball,” Cutsinger said. “It includes everything you do, everything in life, so I think [this sport] has taught me a lot.”