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2013 Spring Preview: Thunderbolts welcome back many players in hope of reaching second-straight state tournament

Senior Alice Liu returns to help lead the South Washington County Thunderbolts adapted softball team this year.

Last year, the South Washington County Thunderbolts adapted softball team reached its first state tournament since 2007 - a feat it'd like to achieve again this season.

Last spring, in their 12th state appearance, the Thunderbolts finished in fourth place. The Thunderbolts won their opening game of the state adapted softball tournament, CI Division, by beating Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville, 17-7. In the following round, however, South Washington County fell to eventual-state champion Anoka-Hennepin, 17-2. The Thunderbolts went on to lose a close third-place game to Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville, 14-11.

Following the season, South Washington County had say good-bye to three 2012 graduates - Caleb Gotz, Hannah Behnken and Robert Foley.

However, the 'Bolts bring back junior pitcher Amanda Henderson and sophomore infielder Lucas Coy, who were each named to the All-Tournament team last year, to help lead the way this season. Other key players are expected to include: senior Alice Liu, juniors Thomas Jarosiewicz and John Stutleberg and sophomores Tristan Rankin, Lucas Fiedler and Dylan Kubitscheck.

John Culbertson is in his first year as head coach of the Thunderbolts, after being an assistant coach for the past 10 years under Denny Larson. Larson was head coach for 15 years. In that time the Thunderbolts softball team qualified for 12 state tournaments and won two state championship titles (in 2005 and 2006).

The Thunderbolts are scheduled to begin the season at home, Wednesday, April 10, against Chanhassen/Chaska/Prior Lake/Shakopee at 4:30 p.m. at East Ridge High School.