Anoka-Ramsey softball ranked No. 6 in the country

Sports Reporter
Sam is the sports reporter for ABC Newspapers, covering high school, junior college and community sports in the area. He joined the staff in October 2016.
Anoka-Ramsey Community College head softball coach Dave Alto has led the Golden Rams to a No. 6 ranking in the NJCAA Division III national polls. (Photo by Anoka-Ramsey Athletics)
Anoka-Ramsey Community College head softball coach Dave Alto has led the Golden Rams to a No. 6 ranking in the NJCAA Division III national polls. (Photo by Anoka-Ramsey Athletics)

The Anoka-Ramsey Community College softball team wasn’t worried about their 2-10 start to the season. The Golden Rams kicked off its season against NCAA Division II teams. A trip to Florida in early March saw the team compete against NJCAA Division I and II teams. Anoka-Ramsey competes at the NJCAA Division III level, which does not give out scholarships.

As tough as it was looking at their record, the Golden Rams knew patience was key and the tough schedule would lead to good things.

Their patience has paid off as they began playing teams at their level and in their conference. ARCC has won 17 of its last 18 games as of April 18, with its only loss to nationally-ranked St. Cloud Technical & Community College.

“We knew we were going to take our lumps. That’s a given,” head coach Dave Alto said. “The beginning of the season is all about seeing what we’re good at and what we need to improve on. It’s staying the course, knowing that the season is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s about getting ready for division play. For us, we know that’s what matters.”

The second-half surge has led to the Golden Rams once again making the national polls. The program has been ranked during the last three years, but it reached its highest ranking this week at No. 6.

Alto called it the standard they have set in the program. He’s stressed to his players to enjoy the ranking, but to keep playing and practicing to beat the best.

ARCC may have to beat the best to qualify for its first national tournament appearance. The program has come close, but its region is one of the toughest in the nation. Three others Minnesota teams made the NJCAA Division III polls this week with two more receiving votes.

“That is the ultimate goal,” Alto said on making nationals. “The last two years, four of the top 10 teams in the nation have been in the same region. For whatever reason, we just haven’t gotten it done in those two days. We’ve been good enough, but it just hasn’t been our time. We cross our fingers hoping this year is our time.”

The Golden Rams have a team batting average of .317 and an on-base percentage of .406. Ashton Prachar leads the way with 35 hits follow by Ramsey native Shannon Olson and Andover native Alexus Martin-Warren both adding 27 hits.

Ashton Prachar leads Anoka-Ramsey with 35 hits. (Photo by Anoka-Ramsey Athletics)
Ashton Prachar leads Anoka-Ramsey with 35 hits. (Photo by Anoka-Ramsey Athletics)

Lindsey Swanson and Quincy Gross combine to do most of the pitching duties. Gross has been fantastic with 122 strikeouts.

All 11 players on the roster are from Minnesota.

“I really like how cohesive they are,” Alto said. “How they work together and play the game the right way. We’ve got really good pitching and we’ve got good sophomore leadership. And then we have a good group of freshman. We have a really solid group.”

ARCC has 16 games remaining, including Wednesday’s doubleheader at St. Thomas JV. The team hopes to continue its strong push into postseason play. And putting wins and losses aside, Alto said it’s clear to him how much the team has improved from the start of the season to now.

“I can definitely see we’re playing better,” Alto said. “We’re getting better and are on a pretty good run right now. We’ve had two good games with St. Cloud last week, who is ranked No. 3 and we split with. It’s going to be a fight to the end.”

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