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Softball: Red Wing continues to build

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sports Red Wing, 55066
Red Wing Minnesota 2760 North Service Drive / P.O. Box 15 55066

With any luck, spring will be here soon, and Jon Bohmbach and the Red Wing softball team can go outside to run, hit and throw.

A little more good fortune, and the Wingers will be able to take the field long before they did last year, a double-header loss to Holy Angels on April 29.

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Whenever it is that Red Wing finally steps foot on dirt, Bohmbach and the Wingers will be able to see how much of last year carries over into 2014.

“I’m looking forward to the season,” Bohmbach said. “Last year, I was so excited for this year when the last game ended, because I thought we improved so much. And it has continued on this year, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.”

The Wingers lost just one player from last year – pitcher Laura Chalmers – and return five players in their final year of eligibility: Hailee Johnson, Hailey Kuhl, Hannah Walch, Kelsey Reding and Mary Bender.

And that quintet will be counted on to jumpstart an offense that could be the difference in improving on 2013’s 2-17 record, especially Kuhl (.277 batting average), Walch (.272) and Bender (.270), the only Wingers to hit above .250 last year.

Also coming to Red Wing this year is a batting order that, for the most part, can be written in pen.

“Last year was such a whirlwind-type of thing … a lot of kids were thrown into positions that you learned they weren’t succeeding at. I didn’t know who we were going to put (where). Sometimes on game day we had to make changes,” Bohmbach said. “This year, I know what the lineup is going to be. I’m pretty confident. We have some battles going on in certain spots, and that’s something we just had to do with what we had last year. This year, we have some really positive, strong battles for positions. It’s been a very healthy situation.”

Junior Emily Boxrud (1-7, 9.35 ERA) will take over the No. 1 spot in the rotation after sharing duties with Chalmers last year. Kuhl, who caught about 50 percent of the games in 2013, is moving to short stop and leaving the facemask and shin guards to sophomore McKenzie Cota.

It’s not a new battery, but one that has now had time to recharge for a new season. Whether Mother Nature takes it easier on the team is not up for discussion. But the challenges of the new season will not be compounded by the inexperience of last year.

“(We learned that) the opportunity to use some players, like Emily, that maybe would not have pitched as much on the varsity level, and McKenzie Cota (who also got) the game experience,” Bohmbach said of last spring. “We didn’t have the numbers last year, so we had to move kids around. So there are a lot of kids that got varsity time just because of numbers, injuries and stuff. So we learned a lot about the younger kids.”

The Wingers are scheduled to play two home games to open the season, beginning with Bloomington Kennedy at 4:30 p.m. April 1. On April 3, Farmington will visit Red Wing High School.

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