Cyclones Coach Greg Thorstad addresses the team. (Photo: Isaac Schweer, WJON)

ST. CLOUD -- After another stellar season, the St. Cloud Technical and Community College softball team will be competing in the national championship tournament this weekend.

The Cyclones finished the 2016 season with a 39-11 record, including a 5-0 win over Rochester last Friday to advance to the NJCAA DIII Championship as the #3 seed.

It's the third time in the past four years the Cyclones have made it to the national tournament, as the program has come a long way since coach Greg Thorstad took over a one-win team six years ago.

"We were pulling kids out of the hallway [to play]," Thorstad says. "Since then, we've been able to keep second-year players around and it's built into a place where kids want to come and play and we're able to keep moving forward."

Without the ability to keep players more than two years as a community college, building team leadership and chemistry can be difficult but the players say it's been instrumental the the team's success.

"Coming from a first-year prospective, they're really welcoming," says outfielder Chloe Callahan. "It helps a lot that you have some nice players to collaborate with."

"We know we get a short time together, so we make the best of it and hang out whenever we can and we know what we have to do," says second-year outfielder Paige Larsen.

Team chemistry goes a long way, but Thorstad says they'll need to do more in order to make a run at the national title.

"It'll take continued dedication to want to be successful," Thorstad says. "And as you get further along, teams get better and defense becomes more of a factor -- [our defense] needs to continue in order to beat some of these teams from around the country."

The Cyclones will play Ocean County College (New Jersey) at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow (Thursday) in Rochester.

Photo: Isaac Schweer, WJON