Feature photo by Paul Flessland
Past photos by NDSU Athletics
The Bakke Sisters’ careers at NDSU occurred during vastly different circumstances. Their careers never overlapped and can’t be compared with stats, wins or trophies.
Jenny (Bakke) Christians arrived in Fargo on the heels of NDSU’s first and only Division II softball championship. It was 2001 and NDSU had established itself as a premier power in Division II. By the time Jenny Bakke left, NDSU was about to climb the NCAA ladder even higher.
Allison (Bakke) Hauschild’s first season at NDSU was the year following her sister’s senior season. Her team’s mission had slightly shifted. They weren’t chasing North Central Conference and NCAA Division II titles anymore. Her class was given the task of transitioning Darren Mueller’s softball program through the rough waves of Division I with minimal historic appreciation shown through conference and national title banners.
The Bakke Sisters grew up in Anoka, Minnesota, a northern suburb of the Twin Cities. Together, they combined for five Minnesota Class AAA all-state selections and were bound for college careers.
Christians, who is four years older than her sister, Hauschild, sent NDSU a recruiting profile on a whim as her high school days dwindled away. Immediately, Mueller called the Anoka star.
“I couldn’t believe I got a phone call from him,” Christians admits nearly 20 years later. Mueller invited her to Fargo for a tryout with the team, to see if she would pass the eye test to go along with her impressive résumé. The middle infielder was thrown in the outfield, and although she was out of position, Mueller wanted her in a Bison uniform.
Mueller proved his eye for talent was sharp when Christians was named the North Central Conference Rookie of the Year in 2001. Her stock continued to rise throughout college and she developed into the most dangerous hitter in NDSU’s lineup. Christians claimed two All-America honors in 2003 and 2004.
She left NDSU as one of the most prolific hitters in school history, and her name remains scattered across the NDSU record book. What eluded the second baseman was a return trip to the national championship game. But Christians’ teams are still considered successful, qualifying for Division II’s softball equivalent of the Elite Eight in 2002 and 2003.
“I think the national championship is always in your mind frame, but as a whole, I think Darren and Jamie (Trachsel) always told us to be the best team we could be, whatever that outcome is,” Christians said. “Whether we win a conference, regional or national championship, as long as we were proud to walk on the field every day. I think that stuck in my mind more than any national championship title race.”
For Hauschild, a Division II national championship was impossible considering the circumstance at NDSU. After the 2004 season that saw the graduation of her older sister, Christians, Hauschild’s softball teams would become a part of the era that has come to be known as the “Transition Years.” And that label weighed heavily in her decision to follow her sister to NDSU.
Like her sister, Hauschild was a star in high school, pitching her way to a 14-1 record her junior season with an astonishing 0.07 ERA. Her high school accomplishments garnered the attention of college coach outside of NDSU, who were currently housing her older sister.
The Bakke Sisters admitted they were not familiar with the Bison softball team or NDSU before Christians came on her visit.
“First and foremost, I fell in love with Darren and Mitch (Hanson). I think they had the same vision and what I was looking for in a coach with their work ethic. They wanted to win a national championship again, and you could tell they had that mentality,” Christians said. “I think the other part of it was, I think it felt more like a family here. You could tell the players, and even the parents when I got here as a freshman, everyone was so close.”
Hauschild met Mueller through her sister’s recruitment. From there, their relationship blossomed and Mueller began the recruitment process to bring the other Bakke sister to NDSU. His personality is what Hauschild said brought her to NDSU, not necessarily to follow in her sister’s footsteps.
“She did her own thing,” Christians said of her sister during her college recruitment. “I told her just because I played here doesn’t mean you have to play here, too. I think she would say the same thing. She just loved the team and loved the coaches.”
Hauschild’s first season at NDSU was in 2005 and she pitched in 42 of NDSU’s 45 games. She struck out 193 batters in 173 innings and said she never felt any pressure to live up to her Bakke last name.
“I just wanted to make my own stamp and make my own direction through college and figure out where I was going with it,” Hauschild said.
That first stamp was solidified when she was selected to the Division I All-Independent first team.
The 2005 season was the first year in NDSU’s transition to Division I. This meant a couple things. NDSU couldn’t compete at the end of the season tournaments and they were without a conference.
NDSU’s dominance in the win-loss column took a hit, too. The Bison would dip three games under .500 in 2005. The following season, they were a game under .500, but victories over Wisconsin and Minnesota, and the Division I Independent Tournament championship assured the athletic department that the softball program was making the transition as smooth as possible.
Hauschild played a major role in stabilizing the Bison from the mound. She was bitten by the injury bug during the championship run in 2006, but came back in 2007 as strong as ever. She was named the Division I Independent Pitcher of the Year for her heroics.
Hauschild jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the Division I foundation for the NDSU softball program and she succeeded. NDSU wasn’t eligible for the Summit League tournament the first year the Bison entered the conference in 2008. But they did post a 14-2 record in conference play, winning the regular-season title.
Nine years after their first regular season Summit League championship, NDSU now has six regular season championships to go along with eight conference tournament titles.
The Bakke Sisters walked into the NDSU programs at drastically different periods in the program’s history. But their achievements translate across every landscape of college softball and their mark was made. The fruits of the Bakke’s labor are now savored by the current crop of Bison and being a part of that fertile foundation is more than enough for the sisters to be proud to call themselves Bison.
ALLISON (BAKKE) HAUSCHILD
Where is Allison Now?
Allison (Bakke) Hauschild lives in West Fargo, North Dakota, and works for the West Fargo Park District as a recreation specialists. She’s in charge of arranging summer leagues for both children and adults, to go along with teaching science classes. She coaches the Red River Thunder girl’s fastpitch team. She married Dustin Hauschild in 2013, and the two have a son named Colten (2) and are currently expecting another child.
Bison Illustrated: Where did you go after your Bison career was over?
Allison Hauschild: As I left school, I tried to get rec jobs in the park district—that was my goal. So at first, I applied for a lot of jobs and actually was down in my hometown in Anoka, Minnesota, so we ended up coming back up here for an interview, for the Fargo Park District and that’s how I got back up here. I actually interned there through college and that helped me. It wasn’t really the plan, I just happened to see an email one day. So I applied and sure enough, I got the position and ended up back up here. That would’ve been in 2008. I was only home for three months, and then that fall I got the job.
BI: How did you get your current position?
AH: I’m at the West Fargo Park District for my new job. I was at Fargo Parks for five years. I took two years off to coach at MSUM (Minnesota State Moorhead), and was a pitching coach there. Did that for a couple years and now I’ve been at West Fargo Parks for about a year and a half.
BI: Are you still coaching on the side?
AH: I am. Right now, I’m coaching a traveling team in the summer called Red River Thunder. We just started that up last summer. This will be year number two for us. Fastpitch is really up and coming in the area, and I’ve actually coached at five different high schools in the area.
BI: Why have you continued to coach softball in the Fargo area?
AH: It’s always been a passion in my life and I played volleyball too, but softball has always stuck. Pitching has always stuck. I just feel like I do it for the love of the game. As I started getting older, I said, I think I want to start coaching, so I have a couple friends in the area and we coach together, that helps.
I want to stay involved and keep growing it around here because that’s another big thing. It’s here and it’s up and coming, but it’s nowhere near the caliber that I’ve seen in the (Twin) Cities and played at in the Cities—that’s why I want this area to get to that level. Obviously, I’m just one of the puzzle pieces in the area trying to get to that same place.
BI: What’s your reaction when you see this program continuing the success after you left?
AH: I’m just proud to be a part of the program and glad to see that it is going where it’s going. Darren (Mueller) and Jamie (Trachsel) were here when I was and they were a huge piece in that. Darren working with pitching, defense and hitting—he was an all-around coach. But mostly Jamie, working on our defense, it was amazing, and the mental side of the game. I think those two coaches really brought it to where it’s at now, and I’m so grateful to play under them and be a Bison. I’m so proud to be a huge part of where they’re at now.
JENNY (BAKKE) CHRISTIANS
Where is Jenny Now?
Jenny (Bakke) Christians lives in Sartell, Minnesota, with her husband Dave. She’s an account representative for Northland Capital. Jenny had various stints in coaching college softball at St. Cloud State and the College of Saint Benedict. Jenny and Dave met playing softball and still take the field once a week over the summer.
Bison Illustrated: Where did you go after your Bison career was over?
JENNY CHRISTIANS: I was recruited by Wells Fargo Financial to be a credit manager, and I interviewed right here in town (Fargo). They contacted me for a job there and it was basically all sales and finance, which is my background. I wanted to start working a little bit, get my feet wet. Then they moved me down to St. Cloud (Minnesota), so that’s how I came to work down there. I worked at Wells Fargo for two and a half years and that’s when I had an opportunity to go back to school, and I started coaching as a graduate assistant at St. Cloud State.
BI: How long were you in coaching for?
JC: I started working for St. Cloud State and once my two years of grad school were done—I ended up getting my master’s in sports management—I decided to get a job at the College of Saint Benedict—they’re a Division III school outside of St. John’s (Minnesota). I worked there for three years and then Paula (U’Ren) at St. Cloud State asked if I wanted to come back and be a full-time assistant at St. Cloud State. I took the job and I worked there for another seven years at St. Cloud State.
I decided last year that I wanted to just go a different route, and I wanted to—I’m always going to live in St. Cloud, so I was looking for other career opportunities, and now I work for Northland Capital. We’re an agricultural financing company. We deal a lot with the farming industry, and we basically help finance and lease out agricultural equipment. So we’re about 75 percent Ag and the rest is commercial-type equipment. I work all on the sales side so I’m working with farmers and small business owners day in and day out.
BI: How’s the career change been for you?
JC: I absolutely love it. I love being able to talk to people all over the United State because we’re nation-wide. They ask a lot about me and where I’m from so it’s fun to tell them I came from Fargo and went to North Dakota State. They just love it, especially when you talk to a lot of the farmers in North Dakota—we have a lot of customers there. We could talk on the phone for an hour just about that alone.
BI: What does Bison Pride mean to you?
JC: You have to give the big “Bison horns” (hand gesture), I think that’s first and foremost. Anywhere you go you see people with Bison on and you flash the horns right away.
I think the biggest thing to me is that you feel like a family here. I think anybody or any athlete coming through this program would tell you that it’s a big family. It’s a school that gives you a lot of support after you graduate. You can always come back and see a familiar face in the crowd. For me, that’s huge.