By Bill Choy

Triplicate Sports Editor

The Del Norte High softball team begins the season with high hopes, returning seven starters from last year's fairly young 12-12 team.

Head coach Jennifer Heuberger said while the girls are still fairly young, it's nice to have seven players who have contributed last year returning, along with a number of promising newcomers to give the team more depth than previous years. Newcomers includes four seniors who are playing high school softball for the first time. Heuberger said it's great to have their leadership and athletic ability on the team.

Originally, the Warriors were supposed to start the season on Friday at Gold Beach. Gold Beach canceled the game, with Del Norte having to wait to start the season until March 17, when the team travels to Bandon to play a doubleheader.

A positive of the cancelation of the first game is it gives the team more time to practice outdoors and get in more live hitting and pitching, Heuberger said

As has befallen all the high school spring sports teams, constant wet and rainy weather for the past several weeks has given the softball team very little time to practice outside on what has mainly been a wet and muddy field.

While the squad has been able to hold practices inside, it's harder to coach and see what the team is capable of in an indoor gym, Heuberger said. While being indoors has given the team time to practice fundamentals, Heuberger said it's been harder to get in key components of the sport, such as fielding, hitting and pitching.

The Warriors starting pitchers are McKenzie Holden and Alyssa Bergquist.

Heuberger has been impressed with the improved control and dedication to pitching from Bergquist. Last year, while she pitched well, she could throw a little bit wild and has taken lessons over the summer to work on her control.

Holden may not pitch as fast but has good control and is a smart pitcher.

Jessica Morrow, who played shortstop last year, has continued to improve as a hitter, and her coach expects her to play a vital role on the team this year. She is also quite fast and Heuberger hopes to use that speed on the basepaths.

Michelle Stacey is developing into a good power hitter. Heuberger said Stacey has improved from last year and is more consistent in her hitting and being more patient.

Once she improves her fundamentals, she'll be a more complete player, Heuberger said.