First-year coach Scott Harris of the Newark Catholic High School softball team has plenty of good things to report, and he's especially excited about a large group of talented players at the junior-high level.

First-year coach Scott Harris of the Newark Catholic High School softball team has plenty of good things to report, and he's especially excited about a large group of talented players at the junior-high level.

Among his more immediate concerns is improving the Green Wave's fortunes at the plate, however.

It scored no runs as it opened 0-10 last season and eventually finished 3-22 overall despite posting a 10-5 victory over Tree of Life Christian in the first round of the Division IV district tournament.

Harris, who is replacing Traci Brennan after she posted a 47-63 record in four seasons, has assembled a staff of assistants who should help in that regard. Lauren Daykin is a former catcher at Ohio State, and Marie O'Neal once coached in the Buckeye Express traveling program and won two national youth championships. Lindsay Tanner is a 2007 graduate who played on the district-winning team in 2005 and the team that earned the top seed for postseason play a year later. The staff is rounded out by holdover Darlene Stacey.

One of the first things they all agreed on was adding freshmen Brianne Nelson (C) and Jayla Graves (OF) to the roster. Nelson, who can play almost every position, has a consistent bat and might help right away.

"We're getting younger, no question," said Harris, whose team will open Monday at Hartley.

"But I think we're really setting ourselves up to field a very good team here in the near future."

An experienced infield will help in the short term, and the Green Wave also returns senior pitcher Tessa Lausberg. She'll be complemented on the mound by junior second baseman Emily Firich and sophomore Abby Fetter, who is throwing in the low 60s and attracting interest from colleges. The eight juniors also include first baseman Kim Breitmayer, shortstop Courtney Lewis, third baseman Kelsey Schuler and catcher Averi Mason.

Others to look for include seniors Paige Rhodes and Morgan Stacey and junior Erica Rath.

"We are very much looking forward to the season," said Harris, a former boys basketball assistant at the school and youth softball coach. "We had six girls playing fall ball, and everyone played last summer. Then we had 24 of the 25 girls in the program playing in the indoor winter leagues."

Harris said he thought his eighth-grade team might be able to challenge Lakewood for the MSL-Ohio Division title. He's also happy about recent renovations made to the field at the high school.

"There's definitely a lot to be excited about," Harris said. "Are we maybe still a year away? Possibly.

"But if our hitting comes around we just might surprise some people this spring."