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St. John’s softball hopes to knock inexperience out of park

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"You gotta learn at this level you can't get away with things that you did in high school," Kvilhaug said.That might be her credo this season. St. John's (10-15, 2-0 Big East) has six freshmen and almost all of them are getting playing time already. The star of the group: Kacee Cox, a power hitter from Simi Valley, Calif."She hits the crap out of the ball," Kvilhaug said. "I've been involved in this game for a long time and she hits the ball as hard or harder than anyone I've ever seen."The coach said Cox, who already has four home runs and 20 RBIs, is one of the best freshmen in the Big East and she adds to an already strong lineup. Sophomore Brandy Reyes and Roxy Struble both also wield power bats and Reyes is hitting .391 so far this season."Our lineup is pretty damn good," Kvilhaug said.It was good enough to come back from seventh-inning deficits twice this weekend in the Big East opening doubleheader against Seton Hall. But falling behind early could be a worry for a young squad. Most of that youth is in the circle, too. Regular starters Chelsea Plimpton, Linzee Sumrall and Lawrence are all rookies. Luckily, the Red Storm will have senior right-hander Lisa Geer to depend on.The returning core is strong, as is Kvilhaug's first recruiting class. St. John's was chosen to finish sixth in the Big East in the Big East preseason coaches' poll - a step up from last year when the Red Storm finished 10th out of 12 teams."They have their hearts set on going to Louisville (the site of the Big East tournament)," Kvilhaug said. "We have our sights set high."The top eight teams in the conference make it to the tourney. Kvilhaug hopes her young squad is one of them."It's a matter," she said, "of how quickly we can get that experience."Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at mraimond@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

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