This looks to be a season of rebuilding for the Reynoldsburg High School softball team.

This looks to be a season of rebuilding for the Reynoldsburg High School softball team.

The Raiders finished 7-18 overall and tied for fifth place at 2-8 in the OCC-Buckeye Division last season. They lost to Grove City 9-0 in the second round of the Division I district tournament.

Reynoldsburg must replace four graduates who combined for 13 years of starting experience, including their starting pitcher from the past four seasons.

"We have a lot of inexperience at the varsity level," said fourth-year coach Liz Daron, whose team will open Tuesday at Pickerington North. "We have a smaller core of players from last year, and we have just one senior on the roster."

Sophomore Sam Miller led the Raiders in hitting (.362) last year and started at second base. She returns and will play somewhere in the infield and likely will bat first or second. But she is battling a back problem and is awaiting medical clearance to play. She had a checkup last Tuesday.

Senior Kayla Back will start in the outfield and bat near the top of the order. Freshman Maria Clark will start at third base and bat toward the top of the order.

Sophomore Tiffany Ricks, who started all last season and batted .297 with 10 RBI, will return at catcher and bat cleanup.

Other starters look to be junior Shanna Stauffer, who was a part-time starter last season, at first base, junior Sam Johnson as a new starter at second base, sophomore Bree Peters in center field and junior Mara Habak as the top pitcher.

Habak might have the most challenging spot in the lineup. She pitched just 21 innings last season and went 0-4 and had a 5.67 ERA.

"She has picked up more speed and movement and is getting more consistent with her pitches," Daron said.

Habak replaces graduate Natalie Zwicker, who struck out 145 batters and had a 1.45 ERA last year.

"There's a good amount of pressure because (Zwicker) was good and there are big shoes to fill," Habak said. "I've been working on my velocity and movement all over summer and winter and I'm looking forward to pitching."

Back is the only senior on the roster, but she said plenty of her teammates are helping to lead.

"We all pitch in," she said. "Kayla, Tiffany, we all work together. We all know that we have to give all we can all the time."

Reynoldsburg now is in the OCC-Ohio with Gahanna, Grove City, Groveport, Lancaster, Newark, Pickerington Central and Pickerington North. Grove City has one of the top teams and returning pitchers (Paige Myers) in the state.

"We're in a very competitive league," Daron said. "We'll have to be on our game every game. Solid defense and hitting will be key. We'll see and face good competition and learn from that."

"There are some excellent teams in the league," Habak said. "But as a team we have some confidence to show what we've got and want to improve over the whole season."

Reynoldsburg will play non-league games against New Albany, Whitehall, Delaware, Licking Heights, Centerville, Brookside, Westerville Central, Watterson and Newark Catholic.

Daron said the returnees have worked hard to improve in the offseason and continue to improve, but there still is work to be done.

"We've been outside a lot this spring and worked on fundamentals -- getting them fly balls, groundball and being in live situations," she said. "We will learn from each scrimmage and practice and learn from each game as we learn about each other and all get on the same page"

"We want to win, but if we give all we can and give 100 percent 100 percent of the time, then win or lose we'll be getting better," Back said.

At a glance

•Coach: Liz Daron, fourth season

•Opener: Tuesday at Pickerington North

•Key players: Kayla Back, Mara Habak, Sam Miller, Bree Peters, Tiffany Ricks and Shanna Stauffer