The Delaware Christian School softball team has had a much better start to this season than it did a year ago.
The Eagles were 4-4 overall after losing to Marion Elgin 6-2 on April 17 and were 1-1 in the MOCAL before playing Granville Christian on April 18. Last season, they lost nine of their first 10 games en route to finishing 8-11.
Delaware Christian is under the direction of first-year coach Matt Heidorn, who coached at the junior high level the past three years. He replaced Bill Ferrigno, who stepped down after five seasons.
"We lack game experience overall, but we will continue to work on focus and intensity," Heidorn said. "I think we're going to have strong pitching and defense."
The Eagles have three pitchers in senior Kayla Zimmerman and freshmen Madie Morgan and Ava Heidorn, the coach's daughter.
Zimmerman went 3-3 last season, taking over in the circle after 2013 graduate Jessica Kapraly was injured. Zimmerman, who also plays third base, had a .537 batting average with 26 runs, 14 RBI and 15 stolen bases last season and was named first-team all-MOCAL.
Heidorn struck out 13 batters in her varsity debut, a 6-4 loss to Millersport in the season opener April 5. She struck out 12 in a 5-2 win over Briggs on April 8.
Zimmerman threw a two-hitter in a 10-3 win over Wellington on April 5.
Zimmerman is one of four returning starters. Also back are senior Carmon Weldi (C) and juniors Emily Cornelius (SS/3B) and Rachel Kirkham (CF). Cornelius was second-team all-league and Weldi was honorable mention all league last season, as the Eagles went 4-7 in the MOCAL with Grove City Christian (11-1) winning the title.
Other returning letterwinners are sophomores Emily Boytar (OF) and Liz Sullivan (RF/C).
When not in the circle, Heidorn and Morgan play shortstop and first base, respectively. Morgan had a home run against Briggs.
Completing the roster are seniors Bethany Kuykendall (OF) and Katie Morgan (OF), junior Natalie Plotner (2B) and sophomore Brianna Kuykendall (OF).
"Emily Cornelius, Natalie Plotner and Carmon Weldi all have strong defensive potential," said coach Heidorn, whose team split a doubleheader against Mount Gilead on April 12, winning 6-4 and losing 3-2. "Rachel Kirkham has the speed to control center field and Liz Sullivan has a big arm in right field.
"Offensively, I expect Kayla to lead the way again. Natalie Plotner and Liz Sullivan have started hot at the plate. Expectations are high for Ava Heidorn and Madie Morgan, who are hitting third and fifth, respectively, in the order."
Delaware Christian will play host to Wellington on Monday, April 21, and travel to Morral Ridgedale on Tuesday, April 22, before returning to MOCAL play Thursday, April 24, at Granville Christian.
The Eagles opened league play with a 5-4 loss to Madison Christian on April 10 before beating Tree of Life 12-1 on April 14.
The MOCAL had seven teams last season but only four this year in Delaware Christian, Granville Christian, Madison Christian and Tree of Life. Fairfield Christian and Grove City Christian left to join the MSL-Cardinal Division and Gahanna Christian is not fielding a team this spring because of low numbers.