2014 Spring Preview: Thunderbolts adapted softball team hopes to take another swing at state
The South Washington County Thunderbolts adapted softball team has reached the state tournament the past two years. This season, the ‘Bolts hope to make it three in a row.
The Thunderbolts, led by head coach John Culbertson, finished in fourth place in the state in 2012 and earned the consolation championship title last season.Culbertson is in his second year as head coach of the Thunderbolts after being an assistant coach for the past 10 years under Denny Larson. Larson, who was head coach for 15 years, helped lead the Thunderbolts softball team to 12 state tournaments and two state championship titles (in 2005 and 2006). Culbertson was also on board for the back-to-back state titles.
Last year the Thunderbolts made their 13th overall appearance in the state adapted softball tournament and finished in third place in the CI South Division – behind Dakota United and Burnsville/Lakeville/Farmington, who tied for first place.The Thunderbolts, who ended the year 11-5 overall, finished as consolation champions at the 2013 state tournament. The ‘Bolts defeated Chaska/Chanhassen/Prior Lake/Shakopee 14-4 in the fifth-place game after upsetting No. 1-seeded Dakota United 9-3 in the consolation semifinals and falling 11-4 to the No. 2-seeded North Suburban Cougars in the first round. Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville was the state champion last year, beating North Suburban 12-5 in the state title game.
This season, juniors Lucas Coy, Lucas Fiedler, Dylan Kubitscheck and Tristan Rankin should help lead a powerful Thunderbolts offense.Last year Coy, a team captain and second-baseman, was 29-for37 on the season for a .784 batting average, scored a team-high 24 runs, hit a team-best 10 doubles and drove in a team-high 23 RBI. Fiedler led the team in batting average. From his leadoff spot, Fiedler was 30-for-38 for a .789 batting average and added 18 runs scored. Kubitscheck also hit over .700 in 2013. He batted .730, was tied for the team lead in RBI with 23 and scored 17 runs. In addition, Rankin had 23 hits, led the team in home runs with three and was third in RBI with 20 last season.
Also back with the Thunderbolts for one more season is senior pitcher Amanda Henderson. Henderson, a team captain in 2013, pitched every inning of every game for the Thunderbolts last season allowing just 7.5 runs per game – a low number for adapted softball. Other seniors taking the field for the Thunderbolts this season are: Alexandra Abdouch, Sam Baumann, Lorenzo Green, Nicholas Menard and John Stutelberg.
The Thunderbolts start the season on Wednesday, April 9, at Prior Lake High School. The team’s first home game is Monday, April 14, at East Ridge High School against New Prague.