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2014 Spring Preview: Senior battery mates to lead talented East Ridge baseball team

East Ridge senior starting pitcher Drew Molin returns to help lead the Raptors in 2014. (Bulletin file photo)

East Ridge returns a core of contributors who led the Raptors to a 14-9 record and nearly a trip to the Section 4AAA semifinals.

Fourth-seeded East Ridge lost 3-2 in eight innings against fifth-seeded Hill-Murray in its first-round game, but went on to beat top-seeded Tartan 7-1 in the consolation round before losing 5-0 to Stillwater to end the season.

The Raptors bring back senior left-hander Drew Molin, who started in the first game of the section tournament last season, and senior catcher Luke Ringhofer, who committed to play Division-I baseball at South Dakota State. Along with the battery remaining intact, East Ridge returns junior Carter Stoehr, a D-I recruit, and another potential D-I recruit with sophomore Cal Keller.

“We are excited to get playing as we have an experience and talented group of players that work hard and have a lot of fun on the field,” Raptors fifth-year head coach Brian Sprout said.

Molin will shoulder more of a workload this season with the graduation of right-hander Josh Stuempert. Stuempert ate up plenty of innings in his career for East Ridge. The Raptors also have to deal with the departure of outfielder Ryan Gregory, who provided plenty of offense last season.

East Ridge’s lineup will feature Molin, who also plays outfield and batted lead-off last season, Ringhofer, who hit second last season, Stoehr, along with senior infielder Parker Moquist, who did not play baseball until the summer season last year because of injury. Sam Cobbs and Zach Wahl held down the middle infield positions during the American Legion season.

Sprout pointed to Woodbury, Cretin-Derham Hall and Stillwater as key teams in the conference and in the section to beat. Suburban East Conference foe Mounds View won the Class 3A state title last season.

East Ridge beat every team in the conference at least once last season.

—Nick Gerhardt