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With arms aplenty on mound, Bull Dogs improving hitting, fielding performance

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It’s no secret that Columbus North will be loaded with pitching depth this softball season.

The key for the Bull Dogs will be how well they can hit and play defense.

“I think we’ll have a pretty good offensive team,” North coach Jerry Burton said. “Our biggest concern is our play in the outfield. We have a lot of work to do to get our outfield to the caliber it needs to be, and we have to develop our bench. We have our work cut out for us this year.”

All three pitchers who threw for the Bull Dogs last season return in senior Molly Crowe (10-6, 1.48 ERA), junior Kelsay Lucas (4-3, 2.72) and sophomore Christine Bomardiere (4-3, 3.38). Senior Grayson Harney, who has signed to play at Indiana Tech, is up from the junior varsity.

“Pitching is our strength, definitely,” Burton said.

Lucas batted .429 and led North with 10 doubles, two home runs and 21 RBIs in earning third-team All-State honors as first baseman. Crowe, who played first when Lucas was pitching, batted .301 with 12 RBIs, and Bombardiere, who played right field, hit .410 with 16 RBIs.

The Bull Dogs return the rest of their infield in senior second baseman Denisa Brooks (.360, 11 RBIs, team-high 25 runs); sophomore shortstop Katie Prall (.311, 20 RBIs) and senior third baseman Shannah Hercamp (.276, 10 RBIs). Sophomore Tommi Stowers (.316) moves from outfield to catcher.

“We have several returning starters, but we lost some kids, too,” Burton said. “We’re going to have to get some good play out of some new kids.”

Those new kids include sophomore Mckayla Caudill, who can play in the infield and outfield, and junior outfielder Shena Wasileswaksi. Lucas can play first or third, Crowe can first or outfield and Bomardiere can play in the outfield or infield.

“There may be some changes this year,” Burton said. “We don’t have the depth we had in the past.

“We’ve had some injury problems,” he said. “We’re trying to get healed up. We’ve had some elbow injuries and ankle and stuff like that — nothing particular where they’re out for awhile or anything like that.”

North, which will open the season Saturday at Class 3A power South Dearborn, went 18-12 last season and lost to Bloomington South in 11 innings in the first round of the sectional at East Central. This year, the Bull Dogs will host the sectional at Lincoln Park.

“We want to get back to winning the sectional,” Burton said. “That didn’t sit too well with us last year, losing to Bloomington South in 11 and them going on and winning sectional.”

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