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November 20, 2018

4/2/2018 11:16:00 AM
Softball youth to spur 2018 success
Bill Schroeder
Sports Editor

Despite graduating Minnesota Ms. Softball finalist Kara O'Byrne (.459 BA, 0.641 ERA, 283K), the Stewartville softball team returns 10 letterwinners, including four starters and All-HVL, All-Section 1AAA catcher Carlie Hildebrandt (.419 BA, 1.000 fielding %) and third baseman Raegan Eickhoff (.400 BA) to improve on 2017's 18-6 record.
"Our strength is our talented youth," Tiger coach Curt Hughes mentioned. "We have quite a few that played varsity at a young age. If they continue to play outstanding defense and hit the ball consistently like they did last year we will be successful."
Hildebrandt and Eickhoff, both sophomores, along with junior shortstop Jordan Schindler (All-HVL honorable mention, .297 BA, .926 fielding %) are the corps of the young talent that has nine players vying for six positions in competitive preseason practices.
Without O'Byrne, now pitching for North Dakota State University, one would think that the bullpen would be a weakness for this year's Tigers, but according to Hughes, "we will replace her with a number of players rotating on the mound."
Look for senior Lauren Horstmann, junior Taylor Smith and Eickhoff to rotate at pitcher.
Once again, parity rules in the always-strong HVL. Stewartville, Zumbrota-Mazeppa, Rochester Lourdes, Pine Island, Byron and Hayfield will all challenge for the HVL title.
Returning letterwinner
Four seniors: Lauren Horstmann, P/OF; Emma Welch, IF; Mak Swanson-Larson, IF; Erin Ross, IF.
Two juniors: Jordan Schindler IF; Taylor Smith, P/OF.
Five sophomores: Carlie Hildebrandt, C/IF, Aarianna Sikkink, IF/OF; Madison Hagstrom, IF; Raegan Eickhoff, IF/P; Samantha Koenigs, OF.

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