INDIAN LAKE - The Lady Orange softball team is returning several starters from last year's team and should be the number one contender for the Division III championship, according to head coach David Olbert.
"I am looking forward to all of our games and am anxious to play the stronger teams in D1 and D2," he said. "I think we will be more competitive than last year's team."
This is Olbert's first year with the team and their record last year was 6-6.
The Orange will miss a strong outfield presence from Nicole Blanchard, Danielle Mitchell and Lindsay Skarrett who all graduated last year.
Olbert sees his returning starters as fully capable to step up and fill in the holes, however. Returning players include senior Kaylie Miller who will start on the mound. She pitched last year and her arm has much improved for this season, according to Olbert. Senior Sierra Olbert will start behind the plate for Miller, while juniors Allison Pine, Murphy Farrell and Jenny Strain will fill in at first base, second base and third base. Junior Carli Reynolds will start at shortstop.
The team welcomes five freshman to the varsity level, including Emma Gray. Gray will be shifting between pitching, third base and the outfield and Olbert expects to see good things come from the young player.
"She puts in a lot of work in the off-season and it's going to pay off," he said.
Seniors Karisa Gessen Merrill Pine will lead in the outfield with Kelsey Tebo, Colleen Nerney and freshmen Meg Smith, Morgan King, Jessica Bain and Emily Waters.
Freshman Prudance Dechene will backup Olber at catcher.
"We are working to improve our defense," said Olbert. "Once we get better at making the difficult plays, we will be successful."
Olbert looks at Minerva-Newcomb as being their biggest rivalry in division play.