Raider softball starts varsity play for first time -- Raider softball starts varsity play for first time
Ready or not, here comes the Lake Park-Audubon softball team.
With two years of junior varsity ball under their belt, the upstart Raiders will play their first varsity schedule this season.
The LP-A squad is entering its third year of softball and its roster is as young, with only two seniors and no juniors on the roster.
But it's a good start nonetheless, said first-year head coach Tiffany Nagel.
"The big challenge this season is that the other programs we are facing have been building their teams for more than several years," Nagel said, who joined the LP-A school district from Perham this year. "We will be matching up against teams who are more experienced. It will be tough, but I think we can stay with them."
With the program only being in its infancy, there is a high ceiling for improvement for the Raiders.
"They are improving every day and we have a lot of good athletes who are capable of playing well," Nagel added.
"Our goal is to improve with each game. We have some girls who know the game and have played, and then we have some who haven't played much softball."
Sophomore Christine McIntire is one of those players with experience, and she'll put that on display on the mound.
After pitching for the last three years, McIntire has progressed to throw well on the varsity level.
"She is working on to keep her pitches around the plate and once she is comfortable getting them in there, we can work on the other parts," Nagel said.
"But Christine brings a lot of spirit to the team and is verbal out there and that is a great asset."
At catcher, freshman Chelsey Raaen will help call the game, with sophomore Jessica Seley providing back up.
There will be a committee approach at first base, with freshman Tasia Reed and eighth grader Tatum Hall each seeing time at the corner.
Freshman Larissa Gage will provide quick play at second, while one of the team's top athletes -- senior Dawnelle Askelson -- will hold down the shortstop duties.
"Dawnelle is a good athlete and has a nice throw and will be able to get the ball to first base," the LP-A coach said.
Senior captain Erika Erickson will play third, and brings good experience to the position.
Outfielders will include sophomores Jen Renner, Megan Erickson and Seley.
"We also have several seventh and eighth graders who will see time," Nagel included.
There isn't a junior varsity schedule, but some JV and junior high games will be implemented in the double headers.
Offensively, it will be adjusting to varsity pitching which will be the biggest challenge.
"We have some strong hitters and some who will need to get used to varsity pitching," Nagel commented. "But again, I see them improving and getting used to that."
The Raiders played in the Menahga tournament Saturday and will be at Ada-Borup Thursday. Their home opener won't be until Friday, May 9, when they host Detroit Lakes.
Lake Park-Audubon softball 2008 schedule:
24 at Ada-Borup
28 at Waubun
9 at Detroit Lakes