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Raptors pitcher ready to make her mark

It would be an understatement to say Carlton/Wrenshall pitcher Abby Mitchell had a strong start to her season last week against Hinckley-Finlayson.

Just how strong has yet to be


"We are currently trying to solidify the number of strikeouts she had, but we believe it was 24 in that game," said Raptors head coach Anna George. "If that is true, it would be a national record. In that game we were missing four of our starters. We had three dropped third strikes in which the batter got to first."

Despite Mitchell's incredible pitching performance, the Raptors lost 3-0 in the home game April 12, and currently are 2-1 on the season.

A year ago, Carlton/Wrenshall played its first season together as a cooperative program in many years. Ending a solid year at 15-7, the Raptors marched all the way to the Section 7A semifinals before bowing out to Silver Bay.

Even with Mitchell throwing strikes, the Raptors will need to find a way to overcome the losses of key personnel.

"We had a lot of seniors graduate last year, so we are a very young team this season," George said. "This is an athletic, talented and coachable group, but they are young. We have four returning starters, two of which are eighth graders and two seniors."

Those two seniors are Megan Matarelli and Mitchell. Mitchell is highly regarded as one of the top pitchers in the area.

Offensively, she is also one of the key hitters in the Raptors lineup, along with Matarelli, Jaylah Crane and Sophie DeCaigney, who both bring solid swings and good power to the team.

Crane, only an eighth grader, will take over the shortstop position while another eighth grader, Bridgette Kent, will be the catcher.

"Jaylah is a phenomenal athlete and she has the ability to take coaching cues and apply them immediately," George said. "She is hungry to learn and get better. I am also proud of the way Bridgette has been able to step in as catcher and taken to an important position."

With Mitchell guiding the ship from the pitching rubber, one can look for this young Raptors team to develop and perhaps be a force come playoff time.

"As a coaching staff we've been really working hard at getting everyone solid on offense and defense," George said.

As often happens in spring, a scheduled game in Deer River on Tuesday was canceled due to inclement weather. The Raptors were scheduled to play at Barnum at 4:30 p.m. Thursday after this issue went to press.