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Wolverines have six starters back for 2013 fastpitch season

By Brian Hansel

The Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines are counting on their offense to carry a lot of the load this season as they battle to improve on an 8-13 fastpitch softball season in 2012.

“Offensively, the Wolverines should be sound,” WDC Head Coach Craig Klawitter said as he opened practice Monday with six returning starters on the team.

Junior Michaela Lehmkuhl hit .486, drove in a whopping 51 runs and collected 15 extra base hits. Lehmkuhl tied a 31-year-old home run record set by Jen Walters. Seniors Caitlin Volkmann and Sam Killian were both .300 hitters. Senior Brooke Umland and junior Victoria Witthuhn combined for 31 RBIs. Katelyn Peters was a good lead-off batter for WDC, scoring 21 runs.

The Wolverines are also set defensively at a number of spots. Volkmann is a veteran pitcher and shortstop. Witthuhn can also pitch, and Klawitter is depending heavily on his two hurlers.

“Pitching will be the key,” Klawitter said.

Lehmkuhl and Peters have catching experience and Klawitter wants to see Peters play second base. Killian and seniors Lacena Brown and Ashley Tuttle gained experience in the outfield last year.

“If the team finds a couple of infield replacements and a centerfielder, the defense should be solid,” Klawitter said.

Juniors competing for spots on the team include Bethany Bailey, Jennifer Cullifer, Emery Dumpprope and Emily Orsello. Sophomores vying for playing time are Maddy Hinojos, Erin Johnson, Elise Kallevig, Brook Lorentz, Samantha Manselle, Ashley Peters, Becky Plautz and Morgan Zeise.

Klawitter is bracing for a challenging season in Section 6AA, and he sees a number of teams in the mix.

“Every team we play basically has everybody back,” Klawitter said.

The Wolverines are slated to open the fastpitch season April 9 against Staples-Motley at Staples. The Cardinals, who earned a spot in the Class AA state tournament, returned their entire starting lineup, Klawitter said.