While it may have a new softball coach this year, the Gardner-South Wilmington Panthers softball team will have a familiar core this spring.
Much has been made of Jon Posing switching from baseball to softball for what will be his first season coaching that sport, but what has been underscored is the fact that the locals will be returning seven starters when their season opens, including the team's top two pitchers in Abby Horrie and Emily Foley.
"They are both solid pitchers, and both will see a lot of action," Posing said. "I plan to use both in games to help keep hitters off balance."
Posing, who will be assisted this spring by Cassie Bexson, Terry Grimler and Christina Sukley, says that his infield will also be reliable this season, along with a familiar name in centerfield.
"The infield should be solid this year," Posing said. "And out outfield is anchored by our excellent returning sophomore center fielder, Lexi Posing."
Posing has tentatively set his opening infield with Becca Bernardy at first, Sophie Barna at shortstop and Horrie at third base.
"Second base is real solid with returning starter Paige Lardi or newcomers Julie Chambers and Sydney Hernandez," coach Posing said.
Another newcomer, Maranda Residori, will likely be the catcher, though she can also play third base. Both left and right field, however, are still up for grabs.
"Emily will get time in left when Abby's on the mound, and Residori, Jordan Kirk, Jamie Sorensen will see time when Emily is pitching," Posing said. "Right field is open with players like Emily Hopwood, Ally Matthews, Kirk, Kaitlyn Grimler, Kaitlyn Dennett, Mady Patton and Makayla Residori all vying for time."
Posing says that the biggest need for his team right now is in executing "small ball" more efficiently.
"We need to be able to bunt the ball and run the bases better," he said. "That has been a point of interest so far this year."
The GSW coach also thinks that his team can improve on last year's 14-16 record overall and 6-4 River Valley Conference mark.
"I feel like this team is capable of being three to five games above .500, while competing for a conference championship, as well as a regional championship," he said. "This team will play hard and they will scrap. We should be very competitive."
In terms of the RVC this spring, Posing thinks that Beecher is the team that everyone is gunning for right now.
"Not coaching softball before makes it difficult for me to speculate on the conference," he admitted. "I do know that Beecher is the team everyone is always trying to beat. They have probably won the conference multiple years in a row now. Everyone else is trying to find a way to play competitive in the conference."