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Veteran lineup returns to lead way for Tigers

A veteran lineup returns hoping to lead the Nevis softball team to another successful season.

Six seniors and five juniors will provide the leadership as the Tigers look to improve on a 4-4 Upper Mississippi Conference and 11-7 overall record.

Seniors Erin Tooker (center field), Brianna Nelson (catcher), Ashley Pyburn (shortstop), Nikki Bayman (third base) and Jessica Swanda (right field) will join juniors Kia Heide (first base), Jayden Vredenberg (second base), Lydia Bjorklund (left field) and Cora Umthun (pitcher) in the starting lineup. Senior Gabby David, junior Emily David, and sophomores Megan Garaedts and Maggie Karl could compete for starting roles while Autumn Pollock-Shimer and Maggie Carrier will also compete for playing time. Heide and Carrier will provide depth at pitcher.

That group helped the Tigers score 166 runs (9.2 per game) while allowing 128 runs (7.1 per game). Nevis went 6-5 against Section 5A teams to earn the No. 5 seed in the West for the section tournament. The Tigers defeated No. 4 Northland 8-5 before being eliminated with losses to No. 1 Pine River-Backus (3-0) and No. 3 Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (12-9). Sebeka defeated Pine River-Backus in the Section 5A championship game. In conference play, PR-B went 6-0 while W-H-A finished at 6-2. Nevis and Red Lake (3-3) finished with .500 records.

"I think we will be comparable fielding and hitting with most of the teams. Our success this season will be determined by how quickly our pitchers settle into their roles. All threw some last year, but not consistently over a number of games. I know that all three will give their best when asked. The key being simply to throw strikes," said Nevis head coach Mike O'Rourke, who will be assisted by Emily Franck. "Our goals are the same every year: have fun, increase the knowledge and skill level of each player, and try to win some games."


April 11 - vs. Cass Lake (2), 4 p.m. April 16 - at Blackduck, 4:30 p.m. April 23 - vs. Kelliher-Northome, 4:30 p.m. April 25 - vs. Laporte (2), 4 p.m. April 29 - at Northland, 4:30 p.m., April 30 - at Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (2), 4 p.m.

May 7 - vs. Pine River-Backus (2), 4 p.m. May 10 - vs. Sebeka, 4:30 p.m. May 11 - at Deer River tournament, 9 a.m.