The Northridge High School softball team has high expectations, returning nine letterwinners and five seniors from a team that finished 16-11 last season.

The Northridge High School softball team has high expectations, returning nine letterwinners and five seniors from a team that finished 16-11 last season.

The Vikings also have added two freshmen power arms to the returning talent, giving fifth-year coach Dave Gunn more cause for optimism.

The returnees are seniors Britni Goodman (1B), Annie Kiebel (SS/2B) Lindsay Rose (2B), Falon Warner (3B/P) and Kayleigh Williams (C), juniors Sarah Heiman (SS/3B) and Sarah Verhovec and sophomores Jessica Simmons (CF) and Chelsea Tietz (C). The lineup is rounded out by sophomores Kelly King (RF) and Shannon Woosley (SS/2B).

"We have a lot of talent in the infield," Gunn said. "We have six kids that can play any of the infield positions so we try to split them into either the middle or the corners."

The freshmen pitchers are Kayla Davison and Kimber Hazlett, both right-handers.

"They're like bookends because we don't really have a No. 1 but they are both pretty solid," Gunn said. "They had an incredible career in middle school and both played on a travel team during the summer that finished in the top 10 nationally. As for pitching, they both have good movement and they worry more about their pitches than what the batter is doing."

The pitching coach, Mark Blasczyk, isn't concerned about their transition to varsity.

"Both of them throw in the high 50s to low 60s and both know all five pitches -- fastball, changeup, riseball, curveball, screwball and dropball. They know all of the pitches now that a college pitcher will know," said Blasczyk, who has worked with Davison and Hazlett for four years and is the pitching coach for the Ohio Wesleyan softball team. "They have played high level of travel ball, so I don't think they will be in awe of varsity softball. I teach them all techniques of pitching, but I teach them the mental part of the game as well. They handle that part of the game well."

The Vikings jumped from four wins in 2007 to 16 last year and were 6-8 in the MBC behind champion Johnstown (13-1). The six victories doubled their league wins from 2007.

"We have to improve on hitting, but that's something that can come along later in the season. We got better last year as the season went along," Gunn said. "But we have a lot of kids who play a lot of travel ball and a lot of them are in the infield. That's why I think defense will be a big key for us."

At a glance

Below are the coming schedules for the Northridge baseball, softball and boys and girls track and field teams:

BASEBALL

Monday -- At Mount Vernon in opener

Tuesday -- At Columbus Academy

*April 6 -- At Danville

SOFTBALL

Monday -- At Heath in opener

Saturday -- At Zanesville West Muskingum (doubleheader)

*April 6 -- At Danville

TRACK & FIELD

Tuesday -- At Millersport

Thursday -- At Newark Catholic

*MBC game