It was a good learning curve of a season for the young Detroit Lakes softball team, as the Lakers finished with an 8-11 record.

What was learned was defense and pitching mean the difference between wins and losses.

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“We struggled some with our pitching and at times our defense wasn’t there,” said DL head coach Phil Kirchner. “When you don’t play good defense and don’t throw strikes, good teams will beat you.”

The Lakers relied on their veterans who played important roles during the last two years, where DL made it to the Section 8-2A championship in 2012.

Seniors such as first baseman Sadie Larson (.418 batting average), shortstop Kathryn Kinney (.381) and outfielder Hannah Ianiro (.264) anchored the team on both sides of the plate.

Kinney was named All-Section, while Larson was named Mid-State All-Conference, along with freshman third baseman Kyra Vagle (.487).

Kinney and sophomore Rachel Ianiro were also named Mid-State All-Conference Honorable Mentioned.

“We improved over the season and that’s part of the learning process,” Kirchner said. “One thing we couldn’t be was complacent from the past years where we were pretty successful.”

The Lakers did take positive steps for the future, with players such as catcher Emily Seebold (.304), Vagle, second baseman Carolyn Kinney (.327), juniors Llciena Burnside (.212), Brooke Olson (.333) and Rachel Ianiro, among others, returning with a vast amount of experience.

“Players will need to keep pushing each other to make each other better,” Kirchner said. “They will have to do that to keep our winning tradition alive.”

Sophomore Chaz Butz will be back as a three-year starter already, after going 8-7. Other pitchers in the mix for next season will be Vagle and freshman Emma Maguire.

“We have Chaz back, along with some good, young pitchers,” the DL coach said. “But they will all have to work hard to improve, as well.”

The Lakers’ path through the playoffs will be a bit tougher starting next year, after being raised to Class 3A, which will pit them against teams such as Brainerd, Alexandria, Moorhead and the St. Cloud schools.

“That just means we will have to play at a higher level pitching, on defense and with our hitting,” Kirchner said. “We will take that challenge head on this offseason.”

Laker results - The 2013 Detroit Lakes softball season stats – Record: 8-11

Season batting stats

Detroit Lakes

                        AB    R      H Avg.

E. Seebold       56   14   17   .304

K. Vagle            60   15   26   .433

C. Kinney         52   11   17   .327

R. Ianiro           56   9      18   .321

S. Larson         55   18   23   .418

L. Burnside       52   9      11   .212

H. Ianiro           53   9      14   .264

B. Olson           48   7      16   .333

K. Kinney          50   23   19   .381

H. Sonstegard  8      3      4   .501

M. Kirchner       10   3      2   .201

E. Schiltz          3      0      2   .667

A. Butzer          12   1      3   .251

A. Anderson     4      1      0   .000

K. Edwards       6      1      2   .333

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k): DL – C. Butz (8-7) 88-103-92-43-27-49; E. Maguire (0-3) 15.1-26-23-21-6-4; K. Vagle (0-1) 9-11-11-11-11-2.

(Follow Brian Wierima on Twitter at DLSportsGuy.)