March 13 AWAY
Del Norte at Gold Beach

March 15-16 AWAY
at Anderson Tournament

March 25-26 AWAY
at Medford Tournament

March 27th AWAY
Del Norte at McKinleyville

March 30th Home (2 games)
Del Norte vs McKinleyville

April 3rd AWAY
Del Norte at Eureka

April 6th HOME (2 games)
Del Norte vs Eureka

April 9th HOME
Del Norte vs Arcata

April 12th AWAY (2 games)
Del Norte at Arcata

May 1 HOME
Del Norte vs Fortuna

May 4th AWAY (2 games)
Del Norte at Fortuna

May 6-10 TBD
Humboldt-Del Norte Playoffs

May 15-25 TBD
North Coast Section Playoffs

All times and dates are subject to change. Call the Del Norte High School front office for game times, cancellations and make-up dates.

I t’s a new era for the Del Norte softball team. The Warriors lost six players to graduation who helped lead the program to back-to-back appearances in the North Coast Section Division IV Championship game, and an undefeated Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 Championship season in 2018.

Del Norte will also have a new head coach this year as Jackie Heuberger takes over the team from former head coach Pablo Lorenzi. Heuberger was previously the head coach at Del Norte from 2006 until 2011, after spending two seasons as Lorenzi’s assistant coach.

“I’m excited to have a fresh start,” said senior Kaia Langlois. “Last season it was nice winning but I’m excited to see what comes this season. It is a lot different, for sure, but I’m pretty sure it will work out.”

Coming off of one of the best two-year runs in any sport in school history, the Warriors are trying to keep expectations low and hopes high as they see what lies ahead in the 2019 season.

“Personally my goal is just to learn,” said senior Laycee Coopman, a returning starter. “We lost five seniors last year so this is a brand new team with a bunch of new people. So this is kind of a season of learning, and getting to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We are also getting to know our coaches as well. I just want to go with the flow. I don’t want to have high expectations — don’t expect to win NCS. We are a new team, we can work for that goal.

“Last year we could have said, ‘Yeah, we are going to win league,’ because we were really good last year. But this year it is kind of a goal to work towards. We want to but it is not promised, so we are going to have to work really hard at it — 10 times harder than last year.”

The Warriors return five players from last year’s roster, including 2018 white star second baseman Shelby Horner and HDN honorable mention selections Coopman and Madeline Burchell, along with McKenzy Fernandes and Langlois.

“My goal this season is to be a leader, because we lost a lot of leadership last year,” Horner said. “So we have been working hard on taking over the leadership and trying to help everyone out. We just want to make it a good season to where we can compete in league and maybe go to the NCS and make a good run at it.”

Although the rest of the players on the roster are new, the majority of the girls have played softball together before.

“We are going to be alright,” Horner said. “Most of us played little league together, so it is kind of like having our little league all star team back, the ones that went to state. We are kind of the same team. We are all kind of like family already. I think that is going to help us out a lot.”

While the majority of girls have played together before, and several of the newcomers have previous varsity softball experience, Heuberger said the team is definitely rusty as they head into the season.

Practice has also been slow to get going, Heuberger said, as long postseason runs in basketball and wrestling kept multiple players off the diamond in the early weeks of practice. A particularly wet February has served to constrain early practices further.

“We have a lot of work to do because we have some key positions that we have new girls in,” Heuberger said. “We have so many positions open, and only a few girls that really know the program. We have a lot of girls out here that haven’t played for a few years, so right now my ultimate goal is just to build. I don’t know exactly what we need to work on the most until I see them play, and see how things go in our first live game. We are a little short on pitching right now, and a little short in key positions like catcher and shortstop.”

Fortunately, Heuberger believes she has some strong talent to work with.

“I have some really great athletes out that can probably play most positions, it is just trying to figure out which one they can do the best and contribute the most at,” Heuberger said. “I have set goals to just build as a team and get better every day. I think we are capable of doing well. I’m trying to let the girls know that we don’t have to win every game, we just have to be able to get better every time. That is our goal. We need to develop confidence in each other, and that isn’t something we can really start to build on until we play our first game and see what it looks like.”

Luckily the Warriors won’t have to wait much longer, with their season opener scheduled for 3 p.m. today on the road in Gold Beach. Del Norte will then head to Anderson on Friday and Saturday for the team’s first tournament of the year.

“We are just all excited for the new season. I think it will be good — no matter if we win or not — we are still going to have fun out here,” Langlois said. “I think it is a little early to tell. I think after the first game it is going to be a lot more clear how the season will go.”

“I feel like the first few games will be about learning what we have to fix,” Horner added. “After that I think we will be good, and we will have a good season.”

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com .