Tigers will start freshman at pitcher
Storm Lake High softball coach Jason Stoltzfus says his team is taking its 3A regional semifinal game against Carroll tonight as "just another tournament game."
Carroll coach Erin Hoffmann, whose team edged the Tornadoes 3-2 in the region finals in 12 innings last year, thinks SLHS is out for some payback.
"I'm sure those kids haven't forgotton last year," Hoffmann said Thursday evening. "We know we'll get their best effort and more."
While neither team or coach has totally forgotton last season, the Tornadoes won't be facing the same group of Carroll players it did last year.
The Tigers, 16-22, lost ace pitcher Kora Behrens to graduation, and there are just two seniors on a roster that includes four freshmen and six sophomores.
Early this season, Carroll relied on its No. 2 pitcher from last year, 5-foot-10 Laura Claussen. She suffered a shoulder injury a month ago and will play first tonight, but Hoffmann says she won't pitch.
"We'll be going with a freshman pitcher," Hoffman said. "Being so young, she doesn't have the velocity on the ball we'd like to see; she averages about two strikeouts per game.
"We know Storm Lake will put the ball in play a lot; we just have to hope we play good defense and hope they hit some right at us," Hoffman said.
Carroll will start freshman Lisa Thobe, who has thrown 147 innings this season. Thobe has a 9-13 mark, having given up 185 hits along with 52 walks and 54 strikeouts. She has a 3.20 earned run average.
Stoltzfus has seen Carroll play a couple of times this season, and says the Tigers' strengths are hitting and fielding with pitching being a question mark.
"They are young and rely a lot on their defense," Stoltzfus added. "Their pitchers throw strikes, so we'll want to put the ball in play as much as we can and put some pressure on their defense."