After having what it deemed to be a disappointing regular season, the Gahanna Lincoln High School softball team bounced back to capture a Division I district championship a year ago.

After having what it deemed to be a disappointing regular season, the Gahanna Lincoln High School softball team bounced back to capture a Division I district championship a year ago.

With six returning starters -- and more athleticism throughout the roster than coach Jim Campolo believes he has had in recent years -- the Lions hope to add to that success.

Gahanna, which was 18-12 overall and finished second at 6-4 in the OCC-Ohio Division behind Hilliard Darby (8-2) last year, opens with four games near Sarasota, Fla., from Monday through April 2.

"We all get along really well and that helps out," Paula Lindsay said. "We just get better every day and have the same goals as last year of winning the district and winning the league. We've got a lot of quick outfielders this year and we have a lot of speed overall, and I think that'll definitely help us out."

Lindsay, who is back in right field after hitting .390 with 17 RBI and going 8-for-8 in stolen-base attempts, is one of three senior co-captains along with Chelsea Coleman and Jendy Weppler.

Weppler has been on varsity since her freshman year at second base but is moving to shortstop. Last year she was limited to 17 games because of a knee injury but hit .359 with 13 RBI. Weppler is taking over at shortstop for sophomore Tiyona Marshall, who is now in center field after hitting .333 a year ago.

Also back are junior twin sisters Kelli and Kim Lennox and classmate Kayla Ledbetter. Kelli Lennox will be at second base after starting more than a dozen games last year in the infield and Ledbetter returns at catcher after slugging a team-best .424 with 12 RBI and three home runs in 15 games.

Kim Lennox again will be the No. 1 pitcher after going 17-10 with a 1.29 ERA and 162 strikeouts.

Coleman and sophomore Cassidy Minor are expected to be at first base and senior Sharonda Jackson and juniors Cathlene Beck and Jade Overstreet all could see time at third base.

Senior Carrie Hoover and sophomore Brandis Fishel are the leading candidates to play left field.

Also on the team are junior Val Passero and freshman Montana Fishel.

"Obviously experience is important, and we have quite a bit of experience," coach Jim Campolo said. "Jendy is a four-year starter, and we've got two or three others who are in their second year as starters. Our overall team speed is probably better than it's been the last few years. Our pitching should be strong and we're obviously strong behind the plate. Of our starting lineup, there are about seven of them that run well."

Gahanna opens Monday in Sarasota and follows with games Tuesday at Port Charlotte (Fla.), Wednesday at Bayshore (Fla.) and April 2 at Tampa Robinson.

The Lions' first game in Ohio is April 6 at OCC-Ohio rival Lancaster.

Also in the OCC-Ohio are defending regional champion Grove City, Pickerington Central, Pickerington North, Newark, Groveport and Reynoldsburg.

Last year, Gahanna beat Brookhaven 15-0, Upper Arlington 2-1, Thomas Worthington 4-0 and Worthington Kilbourne 4-2 to win a district title and lost to Lebanon 5-4 in a regional semifinal. Three of the four graduates from that team are playing in college.

"This year with the league itself and our schedule, we're going to have to manufacture runs," Campolo said.

At a glance

•Coach: Jim Campolo, eighth season

•Opener: Monday in Sarasota, Fla.

•Key players: Chelsea Coleman, Kayla Ledbetter, Kelli Lennox, Kim Lennox, Paula Lindsay, Tiyona Marshall and Jendy Weppler