Softball: Raptors see growth with young roster


A young East Ridge softball team featuring just three seniors has needed some work to gel this season.

In the past few games, the work seems to have paid off.

East Ridge (7-7, 9-9) evened its conference and season records with an impressive 5-0 win over visiting White Bear Lake Friday.

Sophomore shortstop Sidney Zavoral jump-started the Raptors with a leadoff home run. Four innings later and leading 3-0, senior first baseman added the rest of the offense with a two-run homer.Madeline Weid

"We came out, and we hit, and we played defense, and we got good pitching," Weid said. "It was a good win. We have really good chemistry, and we're all friends off the field, on the field, and we mesh really well. It's really fun."

The Raptors got standout pitching from senior Hannah Stegeman. Stegeman earned the complete-game win, allowing no runs on five hits, striking out five while walking one.

"We're a really young team, and we can only improve, and I think we have as the season has gone on," Stegeman said. "Well, together as a team we have a really good vibe, and we're all really positive. So I think that shows on the field and I think we've come together as a team."

White Bear Lake slipped to 5-9 in the conference and 6-11 overall.

East Ridge started the season with four straight losses and stood just 4-8 midway through the season, Since then, however, the Raptors have gone 5-1 with only one loss to fifth-ranked Forest Lake.

"From the beginning of the season we talked about trying to get better every single day, and I think part of that for us is experience because we're pretty young," head coach Afton Murray said. "So I think that we're finally, things are starting to click for us a little bit more. That continual strive to get better every single day, and I think we've done a pretty good job with that."

Consistency remains a goal for the Raptors. In back-to-back games last week, the team lost 10-0 to Forest Lake then turned around and beat Cretin-Derham Hall 10-0.

"In the last two weeks, we've showed up to play with that consistency being higher," Murray said. "There have been a couple of games where it hasn't quite been there, but I would say the majority of the games it has been there, so we just have to keep building on that."

Besides the home runs powered by Zavoral and Weis, Alex Retica went 2-for-3 with a single and a double and two RBIs. Kaylee Peterson also doubled.

East Ridge is scheduled to have a tough final week to the regular season, playing at Woodbury (12-2, 13-2) on Monday and then hosting Park (9-3, 12-4) Wednesday.