To say expectations on the Hudson softball team are high this season may be a bit of an understatement.
"Go to state and win state," senior Courtney Moeri said. "I think we can do it."
Head coach Jim Revoir may be a little more restrained with his response, but there's no hiding the fact the Raiders are primed for a strong season.
"Every year you have high expectations," he said. "It's just which team shows up and is ready to compete. We have some new talent coming in and and we have some returners, It's a good mix of good, quality girls."
Moeri is one of seven returning seniors from a Raider team that finished 12-11 overall, 5-5 in the BRC. Hudson returns six all-conference players from a year ago, led by All-BRC First team pick Kaiya Sundeen. Megan Iverson and Angela Huepfel are back after earning All-BRC Second Team honors while Katie Cardell, Colleen Halverson and Hannah Stich were all-conference honorable mention. Stich is a junior this season while the rest are seniors.
Revoir said he also expects a few freshman to have an immediate impact.
"The Boosters keep sending us kids that are more and more prepared every year," he said. "We've got some really good pieces for this puzzle to fit people in where they need to be."
Hudson was able to get a head start on many of the area teams by being able to get outside on its new turf practice field last week. Despite temperatures that barely hit 40 degrees, Cardell said the team has been making the best of it.
"A lot of other teams don't have the opportunity to be outside right now with the snow, so it's definitely an advantage for us," she said.
"Getting out on this turf this early, we'd still be waiting for the mud to dry up up at this point, so it's nice to be able to have someplace where we can get outside," Revoir added.
Revoir said another advantage the Raiders have is their depth of pitching. Cardell, Stich and Halverson all saw action in the circle last year and Revoir said some younger players will get a chance as well.
"We have the luxury of having quite a few pitchers," he said. "It's not like some of the other schools that only have two pitchers and that's their only role. Our infield will look different depending on who is on the mound. We'll have different people at third and different people at short. We have a very versatile infield."
Up and down the lineup Revoir said every player understands her role.
"Girls are starting to understand how to fit into a role system," he noted. "One girl's role might just be a runner. In past years we've won several games where girls score from second or from third and that was their only job. They didn't put a glove on, they didn't bat, but they still won games for us. I think now the girls understand that that is just as important as hitting a walk-off home run or getting a game-winning hit. That person who is able to score from second, or score from first on a double because they run the bases well, that's their role. It's fun to see, we've got people who have really taken that to heart and it's really cool."
Revoir said the Raiders' recent success, which includes a BRC title in 2016, is a credit to the players who have come through the program.
"We have been successful lately and we expect to have success because we're building off the work of all the girls who have helped get us to this point," he said "They've had that taste of what winning is, and now they've got that drive to push each other. It makes them hungry for that next step."
The only thing holding the Raiders back now is Mother Nature. Their season opener against New Richmond, originally scheduled for March 29, was rescheduled to April 16 at Grandview Park and their game against Ellsworth Thursday, April 5, is in doubt. Hopefully things will be ready for their BRC opener with a pair of games at Eau Claire North Thursday, April 12.