PADEN CITY - There's plenty of optimism surrounding the Paden City High School softball program this spring as 12 girls return to wear the Green and White.
Sistersville native Jeanne Fox returns to guide the Wildcats, with Chris Neff serving as her assistant. Fox is in her third season leading the program.
''When I began coaching the team, the record from the previous year was 2-18,'' Fox said. ''We have drastically improved during the time which I started.
''My first year, the girls won more than half of their games. And, last year, they won more than 75 percent of their games.''
In addition to the 12 returning players, Fox will also have the services of Myah Charkawi, who played at Tyler Consolidated last season.
''We are excited they will be competing at the next level this year,'' Fox said of her lineup. ''The starting lineup is pretty solid, with a few competing at their positions.''
Kelsey Loy and Haley Wade are Paden City's two seniors, while Katie Shreves joins Charkawi as the juniors.
The Wildcats' largest class is the sophomores. That group consists of: Tori Anderson, Amber Neff, Graeson Baker, Hannah Stanley, Kayla Hizer, Kayla Barker, Nikki Little, Mallory Estel and Megan Pierce.
Taylor Cosper, Arien Ritchie Aubrey Ritchie and Nikki Marple comprise the freshman.
Paden City's battery will feature Loy on the mound and Charkawi behind the plate.
Around the horn, Baker will play first, Stanley or Barker will work second, with Neff and Cosper at third and short, respectively.
The outfield will consist of Hizer in center, Anderson in right and Wade or Pierce in left.
''We are fortunate to have many players that can play multiple positions,'' Fox said.
Fox added most of her players look solid in all phases.
''Loy, Charkawi, Stanley, Anderson, Cosper, and several others look good hitting the ball,'' she said. ''The girls look pretty strong defensively, but (the early season) will be the real test of our strengths and weaknesses.''