East Ridge vs. Stillwater

4:30 p.m., Monday, April 29

Stillwater struggled through the regular season last spring, taking a sub-.500 record into the section tournament. But the Ponies came alive in the postseason and left North Mankato’s Caswell Park as Class 4A state champions.

The Ponies are jumping hurdles again this spring. Errors, physical and mental, have been an issue in Stillwater’s 2-1 start. On April 9, East Ridge beat the Ponies 11-10 in eight innings.

“It was a very close game,” Ponies coach Bob Beedle said. “They played well, hit the ball hard. But we had four errors and three fundamental errors. We have to clean that up.”

The Suburban East Conference foes meet again on Monday, April 29. By then, Beedle hopes players in new positions will have become more comfortable.

Freshman Taylor Gray has taken over at third base. Freshman shortstop Amber Scalia and senior first baseman Ani Bell, a versatile four-year varsity veteran, are in new positions this season. Stillwater (2-1, 2-1) has four errors in each of its last two games.

“We expect to have to grow,” Beedle said.

With sophomore Allison Benning and Bell as a backup, the Ponies remain solid at the pitching position. And senior Torri Chute, who has two home runs in the first three games, is one of the metro's best catchers.

East Ridge, meanwhile, improved to 3-0 (all conference games) when junior infielder Kaitlin Boyles singled home the winning run in its April 9 victory over Stillwater. The Raptors, led by junior pitcher Abbey Cook and freshman outfielder Avery Wukawitz, have scored 32 runs in their first three games.