2012 Spring Preview: Upcoming East Ridge baseball team has big shoes to fillEast Ridge baseball coach Brian Sprout begins his third season with the Raptors, who look to improve on their 14-8 season finish in 2011 and to acclimate younger players to varsity-level competition.
By: Sada Reed, Woodbury Bulletin
East Ridge baseball coach Brian Sprout begins his third season with the Raptors, who look to improve on their 14-8 season finish in 2011 and to acclimate younger players to varsity-level competition.
“We have a young, talented group of hard working players that are ready to compete in every game,” Sprout said.
Last year, East Ridge started off the year 6-0 and was one of high school baseball’s biggest stories early in the year. However, after its hot start, the Raptors went 7-9 the rest of the way. The team did manage to break new ground, though, reaching the Section 4AAA semifinals at Midway Stadium in St. Paul.
After collecting a key win over Cretin-Derham Hall and key losses to Park, Stillwater and Forest Lake last year, the Raptors earned Section 4AAA’s fifth seed before falling to No. 4 Mounds View. East Ridge finished Suburban East Conference play behind co-champions Stillwater (21-6, 13-5) and Forest Lake (20-8, 13-5) before graduating East Ridge’s first senior class, including Mitch Luebbe, John Hietpas, Jack Leiviska, Brad Schmit, Grady Rolando and Ryan Betz.
A highlight for last year’s Raptors had to be beating rival Woodbury three times by a combined 23-6 score, including a 6-0 shutout of the Royals in the opening round of the playoffs.
This year’s squad will be led by seniors Andy Sammon, Mark Landgrebe, David Lang and Lance Durand.
The SEC field continues to be competitive, as expected teams-to-beat are Forest Lake, Stillwater and Cretin-Derham Hall. (The Raptors will face Forest Lake on Wednesday, April 18; Stillwater on Monday, April 16; and Cretin-Derham Hall on Friday, April 20.) Forest Lake has already collected pre-season Class 3A state rankings (sixth), as well as Stillwater (10th) and Cretin-Derham Hall (19th).
The Raptors officially begin play on Monday at home against Hastings, followed by a game at River Falls, Wis., on Tuesday and at White Bear Lake on Wednesday, April 11. The team returns home on Friday, April 13, to host Mounds View.