RAHS fastpitch finding its groove

When the calendar turns to May, that’s the time for high school spring sports teams to turn the page and start preparing for the playoffs. It seems as though the Roseville Area High School fastpitch softball team has done just that.

After winning only twice in April, the Raiders started off the fifth month of the year by going 4-2. Among those May victories was a 2-0 shutout over Park-Cottage Grove, the No. 1-ranked team in the state.

Roseville head coach Julie Standering likes where her team stands heading into the section tournament.

“The kids are stepping up and maturing and leaning on each other and getting sharper right when we want it,” said Standering. “I think our defense is getting solid, our pitching is getting sharp and our hitting is becoming strategic. It’s a good combination.”

April was rough as the only wins Roseville managed were against Mounds View (2-15) and Chisago Lakes (11-7). Standering knew her team was better than its record and hoped time would bear that out.

“Early in the season I thought we were a better ballclub than we were performing so the statistics didn’t tell the story,” said Standering, who is in her sixth season with the Raiders. “We were scoring enough runs and our pitcher was showing up but if we don’t play defense we give up runs.”

As the season progressed, the defense was shored up and things began to change. Roseville opened April with wins over East Ridge and White Bear Lake and later picked up the victory over Park-Cottage Grove and added another win over White Bear Lake.

While it was exciting to beat the Suburban East Conference champion and top-ranked team, the Raiders didn’t put an overemphasis on the win.

“It’s another game,” said Standering. “They’re a good ballclub. We got the key hits and our pitcher did extremely well.”

Roseville’s main pitcher is senior Aryka Knoche and she blanked the Wolfpack. A year from now, she’ll be a member of the Drake University softball team. Standering feels Knoche is rounding into the type of player she needs to be when she reaches college.

“She is growing and that’s what she needs to do as she finishes her senior year and heads off to Drake,” Standering said.

Before that happens, there is the little matter of the Section 4AA playoffs, which start on May 24. The entire tournament takes place at the McKnight complex in North St. Paul.

Based on the coaches’ association rankings and the QRF at www.Minnesota-scores.net, the section finalists from last season are again the favorites this year. Woodbury, the defending champion, was ranked seventh last week while North St. Paul checked in at No. 10.

“North is great,” said Standering. “I’m really impressed with how they handle things there. Woodburyís feisty.”

Others to watch out for include Stillwater, Tartan and Cretin-Derham Hall.

Pairings for the section tournament were not available at press time for this edition of the Review.

The section playoffs continue on May 25, 27 and 31 and wrap up with the section final on June 2.

 

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.

 

 

 

 

 

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