Members of the Upper Arlington High School softball team surrounded their coaches in the damp grass behind one of the fields at Pickerington North on May 20 for a typical postgame meeting after a 10-0, five-inning loss to Gahanna in a Division I district semifinal.

Members of the Upper Arlington High School softball team surrounded their coaches in the damp grass behind one of the fields at Pickerington North on May 20 for a typical postgame meeting after a 10-0, five-inning loss to Gahanna in a Division I district semifinal.

The players were about to go their separate ways when coach Todd DelBoccio told them he had a couple more things to talk about.

After several more minutes passed, the players finally were left to soak in all that they'd experienced during a season that featured more losses than wins but a few rays of hope for the future.

The Golden Bears finished 11-17 overall but reached a district semifinal and their top five hitters and top two pitchers are eligible to return.

According to junior catcher Stephanie Turner, the theme of the postgame talk surrounded working throughout the offseason and working together as a team.

"I think with us having a younger team, (getting to a district semifinal) just gives us an experience," Turner said. "We know what we're getting into next year and kind of know what to expect now."

UA lost seven of eight games before beating Northland 11-0 in five innings on May 10 to open the district tournament. The Bears then rallied for a 6-4 win over 11th-seeded Pickerington Central in a second-round game May 12 to set up the matchup with second-seeded Gahanna.

UA, which also beat Central 8-6 on April 16, fell behind Gahanna 5-0 on May 19 before play was suspended because of bad weather. When the game resumed the next day, the Lions scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and three in the fifth to end the game.

Gahanna ended the Bears' season a year ago as well, with a 1-0, 11-inning win in a district final.

"It was a good experience to be at district again," DelBoccio said. "For a young team like we have, it's good to go up against a seasoned Gahanna team. We only had four strikeouts against them, but the ball wasn't dropping for us."

The Bears finished sixth in the OCC-Central Division at 4-10, behind Central Crossing (13-0), Thomas Worthington (10-3), Worthington Kilbourne (10-4), Hilliard Davidson (7-7), Hilliard Darby (4-9), Westland (3-10) and Dublin Coffman (3-11).

Entering this week, a league game between Central Crossing and Thomas and a league game between Darby and Westland had not been played.

UA loses four seniors in Kasey Bennett, Sarah Garrett, Brooke Hauser and Sarah Watson. Hauser hit .270 with 16 RBI and Watson scored 16 runs.

Turner, who hit .350 with five home runs and 19 RBI, is among the top players expected to return. Sophomore Laramie Abbruzzese also batted close to .350, with 20 runs scored.

Juniors Mandie Abbruzzese (14 RBI) and Mimi Bair (13 RBI) also hit better than .300, and classmates Fallon Brown (11 runs), Julia Zwayer and Montana Henry were other steady contributors.

Mandie Abbruzzese and freshman McKinly Vazquez were the team's top pitchers this season. Abbruzzese missed time in late April with shoulder tendinitis before returning to the circle for the tournament.

Also eligible to return are juniors Margo Bennett, Emily Duhigg and Erica Sollitto.

"We've got a lot of returnees coming back," DelBoccio said. "We have to get back to the way we're used to playing and focus on a lot of the positives. We expect to get back into the league race. We're real excited about next year."