First-year Delaware Christian School softball coach Andrea Hovda is excited about the season.

The Eagles opened April 2 with a 17-7, six-inning home win over defending MOCAL champion Granville Christian despite not having much varsity experience.

Delaware Christian returned only four players from last season when it finished 8-10 overall and went 6-2 in the MOCAL to place second behind Granville Christian (8-0).

"The strength of this team is our heart," said Hovda, who was an assistant coach with the Eagles the past four seasons. "These girls never give up no matter the score and we have fun. Our goals are to honor God, play hard, never back down or give up and to have fun."

Senior pitcher Claire Bowman struck out eight and drove in three runs in the opener.

The other returnees are senior Zoe Twigg (CF), junior Cassidy Justice (1B/C) and sophomore Macy Allison (RF/2B).

"Claire looks strong this year," Hovda said. "I am looking forward to seeing her mix it up in the circle. We've got a freshman, Katie Neuhart, who has been working hard to be our closer, and we also have a lefty in the mix with (sophomore) Maria Crooks. All of them will see time in the circle this year."

With only nine players on the roster, the Eagles must be versatile and avoid injuries.

When not pitching, Bowman will play one of the corner infield spots, Neuhart will be at shortstop and Crooks will be at first base.

Other newcomers are junior Emily Kalb (OF) and freshmen Eden Marquis (3B) and Emma Rindfuss (C).

Hovda said Neuhart and Justice can play most positions.

"(With only nine players), they are all key players," Hovda said. "...We are looking to Bowman and Twigg for leadership. I'm excited to see Bowman and Rindfuss, our battery, work together. I think our hitting is going to be strong throughout this year.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Delaware Christian softball and track & field teams:

SOFTBALL

*April 8 -- At Madison Christian

April 9 -- At Centerburg

*April 11 -- Home vs. Shekinah Christian

April 13 -- At Morral Ridgedale (DH)

TRACK & FIELD

April 9 -- At Crestline

April 13 -- At Lakewood Invitational

*League contest