Family first

CMU's Severinsen follows in the footsteps of her parents

Colorado Mesa University’s Jessica Severinsen is a force within the pitching circle and at the plate.


Family ties bring pitcher to Mesa

When Jessica Severinsen decided to go home after two years at the University of Northern Iowa, her parents knew a place she could play softball and be happy.

Doug and Katie (Sands) Severinsen had a suggestion.

“We never pushed her, but when she moved back (from Iowa), we asked her if she would want to go to Mesa,” Katie said. “She didn’t want to go to a big university. She was a little homesick her first year. Playing Division I is a lot more intense. It’s pretty stressful.”

Katie, who is originally from Boulder, went to then Mesa State College and played softball from 1987 to 1991. That’s where she met Doug, who played baseball at Mesa from 1987 to 1988. He transferred to Mesa after two years at Nassau (N.Y.) Community College. While there, Nassau qualified for the Junior College World Series in 1986. Doug made the all-tournament team and won the Rawlings Big Stick Award.

That helped him get an opportunity to play at Mesa.

“For Doug and I, playing sports at Mesa, we developed life-long friends,” Katie said. “A big part of our lives were at Mesa. It was a great fit for us.”

They were married, had three children and lived in Grand Junction for 13 years before moving to Elizabeth on the Front Range. Doug worked at the Grand Junction Regional Center with developmentally disabled people.

Doug transferred to a regional center in Parker and now coaches his youngest son in baseball.

Jessica graduated from Chaparral High School in Parker.

She was excited about going to a Division I program, Doug said.

“Then she got sick, and things were not going well,” he said.

When it didn’t work out, there was no question where she would end up.

“I have a lot of friends in Grand Junction,” Doug said. “They say people come back to the valley. They never leave.”

Katie made the trip to Grand Junction for the Mavericks’ March 2-3 home-opening series against Black Hills State (S.D.) University and the March 16-17 series against Fort Lewis College.

“We didn’t have an opportunity to go watch her much (in Iowa),” she said. “I’ve always loved Grand Junction. I still have a lot of friends there.”

One of Jessica’s younger brothers, Matt, is a freshman at Colorado Mesa.

Jessica Severinsen tried Division I college softball, but realized there was more to life than that.

She did it for two years at the University of Northern Iowa and decided family was more important, so she transferred to Colorado Mesa University.

The junior has been the shot in the arm the Mavericks needed this season.

“She is absolutely dominating,” first-year CMU coach Candace Abrams said. “She has a good presence on the mound. She understands the game more and more every day. Her leadership as a junior in the circle is huge.”

Severinsen, who is 9-2 with a 1.84 ERA for the 13-8-1 Mavericks, went to Northern Iowa out of high school for an opportunity to play at the Division I level, which she said had always been her goal.

As a freshman, she pitched in a limited role out of the bullpen. Her sophomore year, Severinsen pitched more innings as a closer.

Severinsen, who was born in Grand Junction and claims Elizabeth as her hometown, realized she wanted to be closer to home and see her parents more often.

“It was really hard being 12 hours away,” she said. “My parents were able to support me, but they could only make it to one tournament.”

Her father, Doug Severinsen, played baseball for the Mavericks in 1987 and 1988, and her mother, Katie (Sands) Severinsen, played for the softball team from 1987 to 1991. They were married and had three children in Grand Junction for 13 years before moving to the Front Range. Jessica graduated from Chaparral High School in Parker.

Katie played with former CMU softball coach Kris Mort, now an athletic administrator for CMU, and played slow-pitch softball with Doug.

“We go way back,” Jessica Severinsen said of her relationship with Mort. “It was kind of meant to be to come here.”

Severinsen learned how to pitch at the college level at Northern Iowa.

“In Division I, you can’t blow it by people,” she said. “You can throw 72 (mph) all you want, but if you lay it down the middle, hitters will hit it over the fans (beyond the outfield fence).”

Abrams, who played and coached at the University of Arizona, said Severinsen knows how to turn on the intimidation factor when she steps in the circle.

“You have to have a little bit of that swagger,” Abrams said. “She’s a different kid off the field, but the minute she crosses the line, it’s game time.”

Severinsen has pitched in 18 of Mesa’s 22 games, starting eight games. She has 63 strikeouts and 27 walks in 76 innings this season.

Her experience also is helping the rest of the pitching staff.

“She’s been a great mentor,” freshman pitcher Courtney Shreves said. “She’s helped me a lot with confidence. Coming in as a freshman, it’s harder to have confidence. She picks me up when I’m down.”

“You always worry about that circle more than any position in my eyes,” Abrams said. “Having Jess in that spot is great. She provides some leadership and is a role model. The other pitchers can look to her the way she approaches batters and the game. Her presence is very intimidating.”

When Severinsen is not pitching, she’s playing first base and hitting the ball like her dad, who won the Rawlings Big Stick Award for Nassau (N.Y.) Community College in the 1986 Junior College World Series.

Jessica is third on the team with a .371 batting average and has six doubles, four home runs, 15 RBI and a team-high 13 walks for the Mavericks.

“It’s been easy for me to adjust,” Severinsen said. “I know the coaching-type style Coach A comes from. Some people had a hard time to adjust, but I think we adjusted well. We have one goal in mind: to win that (RMAC Championship) ring.”


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