East metro softball had plenty of stars

Given the size of the Star Tribune’s metro coverage area, which stretches from Annandale to Red Wing, Stillwater to Hutchinson, one of the biggest frustrations of selecting all-metro teams is that some very deserving athletes often are left off. Here are five softball players from the east metro area who didn’t quite make the cut for the Star Tribune’s 2014 All-Metro team but had terrific seasons nonetheless.

Kristina Lodahl, Tartan: The Titans were only 5-13 on the season, but the sophomore second baseman was among the state’s best with a .552 batting average, six doubles, three home runs, 11 stolen bases and a .966 fielding percentage.

Valerie Hohol, New Life Academy: The junior pitched the Eagles to their ninth consecutive Class 1A state tournament berth with a 16-0 record, 128 strikeouts in 103 innings pitched, and a 1.63 ERA.

Carlie Hart, Stillwater: The junior center fielder is a three-year starter who played on the Ponies’ 2012 state championship team. A table-setter as a leadoff hitter, she batted .427 with 13 RBI and 12 stolen bases.

Natalie Wright, Forest Lake: The senior shortstop has the requisite strong arm and slick glove, but she really stands out at the plate. Wright hit .507 with 13 extra-base hits, including three home runs, and drove in 20 runs. She’s a Minnesota Duluth recruit.

Christina Pickett, East Ridge: The sophomore shortstop has been a stalwart in the infield for two seasons for the Raptors. She was a .500 hitter with great pop in her bat and exceptional patience.

Jim Paulsen