Over the past few years, Dennis Eastman has been successful in building the Central Lakes College Raiders women's basketball team into one of the best in the state.
Now he will try to emulate that success on the softball diamond.
Eastman, who is also the men's athletic director, begins his first season as Raiders head softball coach. He takes over a team that was 2-25 last season and didn't have enough players to field a team in 1998.
"We are going to reach for the stars and see if we can get off the ground," Eastman said. "There is some talent on this team. We should be very competitive.
Head coach -- Dennis Eastman, first year
1999 record -- 1-15 South Division, 2-25 overall
Returning players -- Jolene Otteson (outfield), Nanette Ostlund (pitcher), Tracy Bohall (first base/catcher), Suzy Baratto (outfield).
Assistant coach -- Bob Sullivan
(3:30 games unless noted.)
15-at Bethany Lutheran, noon
18-at North Hennepin
29-MN WEST, noon
6-at Rochester, noon
12-13 Region 13 tournament at North Hennepin, TBA
17-18 State tournament at Itasca, TBA
25-27 National tournament at Arnold, MD
"We are trying to build a solid foundation for this program. These players can get this program in shape real quick if they work together."
CLC returns only four players from last year's squad, but after winning two of five games in the Dawson Community College tournament in Montana March 31-April 1 the promise for a successful season is already apparent.
Nanette Ostlund of Bertha returns to bolster the pitching staff. She went 1-2 on the mound in Montana and also reached base twice in a 6-5 win over Dawson.
Jolene Otteson of Cokato returns. She will play left field and bat second for the Raiders, while Tracy Bohall of Pequot Lakes will see time at first base and catcher. Batting cleanup, Bohall went 2-for-4 with three RBI and one double in a loss to Itasca in the Dawson tournament and also recorded the game-winning hit in a 7-6 win over the University of Crookston.
Suzy Baratto also returns to play outfield for CLC.
Along with Ostlund, Jenny Sovich of Eagle Valley will see the majority of the time on the hill. She made four appearances in the Dawson tournament and finished with a 1-1 record.
Other top performers at the Dawson tournament included Erin Thiesse of Brainerd and Amy Martinson of Cokato.
Thiesse played center field and batted leadoff in each of the five games. She went 3-for-4 with three runs scored in the win against Crookston and was 1-for-2 with two runs scored in a 7-6 loss to Fergus Falls. Martinson (third base and designated hitter) hits fifth for the Raiders and went 3-for-3 with five RBI and two home runs in the loss to Itasca.
Three other Raiders started all five games in the tournament: shortstop Destiny Smith of Cokato, catcher Lee Zauhler of Staples and second baseman Becky Poster of Pierz.
After starting practice March 6, the Raiders have been able to practice outside about 50 percent of the time. With that practice time and a successful spring trip, CLC has high expectations this spring.
Jolene Otteson (Cokato), Nanette Ostlund (Bertha), Tracy Bohall (Pequot Lakes), Suzy Baratto (Pequot Lakes).
Heidi Rogge (Verndale), Becky Poster (Pierz), Lisa Stumpf (Pierz), Destiny Smith (Cokato), Amy Martinson (Cokato), Jenny Nelson (Bloomington), Lee Zauhler (Staples), Becki Wagner (Staples), Erin Thiesse (Brainerd), Jenny Sovich (Eagle Valley).
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