The Delaware Christian School softball team is hoping to continue the winning tradition built by the class of 2012.
Last season, the Eagles went 16-3 overall and won their first league championship by going 11-1 in the MOCAL. However, six starters graduated last spring, including a trio of four-year standouts.
"Losing six seniors, including the infield strength and top three hitters from last year, we need to focus on rebuilding a balanced team," fifth-year coach Bill Ferrigno said. "Four of those seniors dominated the infield and left some very big shoes to fill.
"It is a great opportunity for younger girls to really step up. We started the season by telling the girls that all positions are open for those willing to work hard and learn quickly."
Delaware Christian, which opens Tuesday, April 2, at Morral Ridgedale, clinched the MOCAL title by beating Tree of Life 6-4 in the season finale. The Eagles lost to the Trojans 16-3 in the first round of the Division IV district tournament.
Madison Christian (10-2) finished second in the MOCAL, followed by Gahanna Christian (6-5), Tree of Life (6-6), Grove City Christian (4-6), Fairfield Christian (3-9) and Granville Christian (0-11).
Ferrigno, whose team begins league play Friday, April 5, at home against Grove City Christian, expects Madison Christian and Grove City Christian to be among the top teams in the MOCAL this season.
Expected to lead Delaware Christian is senior Jessica Kapraly (P/3B). Last season, she had a 16-2 record with a 3.06 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 102 innings. She also batted .389 with 13 RBI and was named second-team all-league.
Other key returnees are seniors Holly Bach (1B) and Shannon Ridge (2B), junior Carmon Weldi (C) and sophomore Emily Cornelius (SS). Bach, Ridge and Weldi were outfielders last year and Cornelius played third base.
Cornelius batted .420 with 16 RBI last season and Bach hit .421 and 12 RBI.
Junior Kayla Zimmerman will play third base and share time with Kapraly in the circle, and the outfield is expected to consist of sophomores Rachel Kirby and Abbey Ruminski and freshman Skylin Martin.
"We are looking for our pitching to give us an edge defensively, along with the experience of Cornelius and Zimmerman managing the infield," Ferrigno said. "We have some very fast girls this year, so getting them on base and running aggressively is key in our offense.
"If we can control (how we play) defensively with solid pitching and fielding, we will have a chance to put some runs on the board to hopefully come out on top."