MCMECHEN - Entering his sixth year as coach of Bishop Donahue softball, Curt Mele welcomes back every member of last year's 18-victory squad.
''We didn't have a single senior on last year's team,'' he said. ''We have the whole team back, which on paper, it looks good, but once you're on the field, it could be ... different. I think we should be OK.''
Leading the Bishops into their 2013 campaign will be senior Andrea Guzek.
The starting pitcher a year ago, Guzek took the mound in all 31 games, going 18-13 on the way to posting a 3.01 ERA. The four-year starter also collected 135 strikeouts.
''She is, by far, our main leader,'' Mele said. ''Every day, every practice she comes in with a positive attitude. She not only realizes her potential, but the team's potential, too.''
Also the team's leading hitter with a .344 average, Guzek is coming off some ''shoulder problems'' after volleyball season, but is ''handling them pretty well.''
Another player facing injury issues is senior Beth Wolfe.
The team's second leading hitter, Wolfe tore a muscle in her thigh and will be out several weeks before she takes over third-base duties.
''She has started at third for four years now,'' Mele said. ''With her not there, we'll have girls playing places they normally wouldn't. However, the girls are capable of stepping up until Beth comes back.''
Mele expects a big year from senior starting catcher Katie Scott.
''She's a four-year starter for us, but this will be only her second year behind the plate,'' Mele said. ''But I expect big things from her. She improved greatly last year and I hope she'll continue her improvement into this year.''
Freshman Sommer South will backup Scott and will possibly see time at first base.
Senior Selena Ghaphery will be the starting shortstop. In addition to having ''very good range'' at the position, Ghaphery led the team in steals with 22 last season.
Rounding out the infield will seniors Megan Rush at second and Morgan Carroll at first.
Junior Carly Polis will be the first backup to Carroll when she is able to play after recovering from surgery.
The outfield will be headlined by Tess Fallova, who, according to Mele, is the fastest girl on the team. The sophomore finished second on the team last season with 19 steals and posted a .296 batting average.
Joining Fallova will be junior Abby Randolph in right field and senior Ali Bauer in center.
Junior Marley Keller will also see some time in the outfield.
Freshman Abbey Mele will help in relief of Guzek and her coach believes she will see time in ''75-80'' percent of games.
''It'll be nice to have someone to give (Guzek) a breather,'' he said.
First year player Kat Polinski will see time at both first and in the outfield.
''I'm really looking forward to starting the season,'' Mele said. ''We have a pretty challenging schedule, but I think it'll gets us ready for the tournament when it matters the most.''