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Junior pitcher Michaela Anderson is one of two starters back with the Raptors this spring. Last year she pitched in 12 games last year, going 4-7 with a 3.13 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings.

2013 Spring Preview: East Ridge softball team young, but talented in 2013

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East Ridge fields a young, but talented softball team this spring that will be buoyed by its pitching and defense.

Last year, East Ridge averaged five runs per game, while allowing 3.9 runs per game, compiling a 12-10 overall record and were 9-9 in the Suburban East Conference, good for fifth place in the standings.

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Tom Nemo returns for his third year as head coach of the Raptors in 2013. Also back are starting pitchers Michaela Anderson and Kelsey Ihns. Anderson, a junior, pitched in 12 games last year, going 4-7 with a 3.13 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings. Ihns, a junior, pitched in 11 games, compiling a 7-2 record and 1.80 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 66 innings.

At the plate, the Raptors will need to replace its two leading hitters. Taylor LeMay, who led the team in hits (25), average (.410) and homeruns (5), graduated last spring. Also, the Raptors were dealt a blow when twin sisters Ali and Amanda Robinson decided to run track instead of play softball this spring. The sophomores started every game as freshmen. Allie Robinson was second on the team in hitting (.381) and had a team-high 13 RBI.

However, East Ridge still will have punch.

Junior Kayla Bohlke, sophomore Olivia Hoffman and freshman Anna Roth are expected to be among the team's top offensive players.

Bohlke was second on the team last year with 36 total bases and drew a team-best 12 walks. Huffman hit .345 with 23 total bases, four steals and four RBI. Roth hit .365 with 23 total bases and 10 RBI. Bohlke and Huffman will be two of the team's three captains. Other key players returning include: senior captain Brooke Harrington and freshmen Megan Tarara and Christina Pickett. Harrington is the team's lone senior. The rest of the roster is made up of nine juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen.

This year, expected to be the teams to beat in the SEC are Stillwater -- the defending state champion -- Mounds View and Forest Lake. Stillwater will also likely be the top team in Section 4AAA.

Last year, East Ridge - the sixth seed in section - crushed 11th-seeded Tartan 16-1 in the opener, but fell 7-0 to Suburban East Conference foe Stillwater in the second round, ending the Raptors' year.

East Ridge kicks off the season at home against Cretin-Derham Hall on Monday, April 8.

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