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Preview: East Ridge baseball rebuild pitching staff

Ty Okada tries to throw out a runner attempting a steal during a game last season against Woodbury. File photo / Bulletin

The East Ridge baseball team only lost about three starters from last year's team that finished 7-9 in the Suburban East Conference.

But it just so happens that most of those players were starting pitchers. Head coach Brian Sprout is gearing up to put together a new pitching staff after losing top-end arms in Connor Malcolm, Cal Kellner and Luke Longmuir.

"That's where we lost all three of our starters from last year, they all graduated," Sprout said. "And they were very good for us last year. So we are looking for three more guys to step up and then some."

Fortunately, the rebuild has already begun. Two pitchers have jumped out as strong arms for the Raptors, including senior Conor Bachman and junior Kyle Robinson.

East Ridge returns most of its position players from last year's team. Sprout identified second base and one outfield spot as places where new faces will likely end up.

Sprout is heading into the SEC schedule expecting a challenge for the Raptors and many other teams to score runs this spring. With talented pitchers coming back throughout the conference, teams will need to have the ability to scratch out wins.

"I think there's going to be a lot of top-end pitching where if you get matched up with that pitcher it's going to be a really competitive environment to win a game throughout the entire conference," Sprout said.

Aside from pitching, Sprout said the Raptors are working to develop a consistent offense. He would like to see the team have the ability to generate offense throughout the lineup, top to bottom.

"That was our big struggle last season," Sprout said. "Half our lineup was putting up good numbers and producing, and half our lineup was struggling. We'll have to solve that problem this year."

The Raptors will start the regular season with a game Monday, April 10, at Mounds View.

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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