Alana Jergenson, front and center, celebrated her signing Thursday with Tusculum College along with her parents, Melissa and Jeff, and her brothers, Jeffrey and Liam. Back row, from left, Polk County head softball coach Phillip Miller, Ilijah Brooks, Bryce Jergenson, John Ward and PCHS Principal Dr. Brandon Schweitzer

Jergenson’s journey set for next step at Tusculum University

Alana Jergenson didn’t need much time to settle upon her college home.

No lengthy recruiting saga required – it took just two weeks for Tusculum University coaches to invite Jergenson to campus, the Polk County standout to visit and to immediately fall in love with the school and its softball program.

With the National Signing Period beginning this week, Jergenson made her commitment to Tusculum official, signing a national letter-of-intent to join the Pioneers, an NCAA Division II program based in Greeneville, Tenn. She marked the occasion with a signing celebration Thursday in the school auditorium.

“I’ve wanted to do this for a long time,” said Jergenson, who also celebrated her 18th birthday on Wednesday. “I’m excited.”

Tusculum’s whirlwind courtship of Jergenson began after coaches saw her competing this summer while playing with Carolina Elite SC, a travel program based in Greenville, S.C. The Pioneers liked what they saw, asked Jergenson to travel to Tennessee and a commitment was soon delivered.

“A big thing with me is making sure I feel comfortable academically as well as athletically,” said Jergenson, who hopes to pursue a degree relating to child psychology. “They did a great job focusing on the academics as well as the athletics.

“I met a bunch of the girls while I was there and really got along well with them. That helped a lot with the decision.”

Jergenson’s play and athleticism no doubt made a scholarship offer an easy choice for Tusculum coaches. She earned all-state honors as a sophmore after a 2019 season in which she hit .510 with 25 RBI while also leading Polk County that season in on-base and slugging percentage. She opened the 2020 season with at least one hit in all three games before the COVID-19 pandemic ended the spring campaign. A shortshop throughout her Polk County career, Jergenson typically is a catcher for her travel squad, and she expects to primarily play that position in college.

Jergenson was also set to letter in five sports in her junior year, competing in golf, girls basketball, indoor track, outdoor track and softball. She qualified for the state indoor track championships last season in the shot put.

“I’m really proud of her,” said Polk County softball coach Phillip Miller. “She has worked countless hours in the last four years to become the player she is today.”

Jergerson thought about those hours Thursday as well as the opportunity to have a touch of normalcy in a year that hasn’t had much of that.

“I’ve been looking forward to this day and getting to do something that I haven’t been able to get to do, something that would be part of my senior year,” she said.

“I want to say thank you to my coaches, to Phillip, and to my travel ball coaches, especially Coach Tony (Genovese). My family has been really supportive. Traveling across the country when you have four kids is not easy. But they’ve always been supportive.”

And now all of that time and support has made possible a simple statement – Alana Jergenson, college athlete – that brought a smile to the Polk County senior’s face.

“That sounds like a good step and the right decision,” Jergenson said.