The Upper Arlington High School softball team is hoping the learning curve it endured last season is over.

The Upper Arlington High School softball team is hoping the learning curve it endured last season is over.

Among the 11 players on the Golden Bears' roster entering the season are six seniors and a pair of juniors who were key contributors a year ago.

One of those players is senior Mandie Abbruzzese, a center fielder who has signed with Ohio State and is expected to lead what UA hopes is a strong defensive unit.

Last season, the Bears couldn't overcome inexperience and injuries and finished 11-17 overall.

UA opens Tuesday, March 27, at home against Pickerington Central and begins OCC-Central Division play April 4 at home against Worthington Kilbourne.

"The chemistry on this team is fantastic," senior shortstop Julia Zwayer said. "We've really blended together. Our outfield is looking really strong."

Abbruzzese had 14 RBI last season and is one of UA's captains along with Zwayer and senior Mimi Bair (2B).

Junior Laramie Abbruzzese, Mandie's sister, has verbally committed to play for Bowling Green and could bat leadoff while starting in left field. Senior Montana Henry is expected to play in right field.

Joining Zwayer and Bair in the infield are seniors Stephanie Turner (C) and Emily Duhigg (3B). Juniors Ava Esler and Megan Miller have been competing at first base during the preseason.

Mandie Abbruzzese pitched during the postseason last year but sophomore McKinly Vazquez is expected to split time in the circle with junior Hannah Benjamin this season.

Last season, Turner hit .350 with five home runs and 19 RBI, Laramie Abbruzzese hit close to .350 with 20 runs and Bair had 13 RBI and also hit better than .300.

Fallon Brown, a senior who scored 11 runs last year, moved to North Carolina after the season. The Bears also lost Kasey Bennett, Sarah Garrett, Brooke Hauser and Sarah Watson to graduation. Hauser hit .270 with 16 RBI and Watson scored 16 runs.

"We have a talented sophomore class and some of those players will be coming up as we get some games under our belts," fifth-year coach Todd DelBoccio said. "We've had our best spring in years and they've all just worked extremely hard. We feel like they all understand the game better and that we're further along than we were a year ago."

Last season, the Bears opened the Division I district tournament with an 11-0 win over Northland and upset 11th-seeded Pickerington Central 6-4 to advance to a district semifinal, where they lost to second-seeded Gahanna 10-0 in five innings.

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

Second-round league games between Central Crossing and Thomas and Darby and Westland were not played.

"We had a lot of young kids last year, and basically every position is back except for first base, so that's encouraging," DelBoccio said.

"We ended up getting healthy right before district play and upset Pickerington Central. They're all getting along and we've been practicing well."