WHEELING - Coach Rick Magruder and the Wheeling Central softball team will bring back some talent to the field this season.
Magruder, who has been at the helm since 1996, said senior Madison Basinger will return to the pitcher's circle, with senior Joni Zavolta playing right field and senior Ashley Gast at first base.
"Madison Basinger is our starting pitcher and she's worked pretty hard," Magruder said. "I expect a lot out of her. We have a good nucleus back."
At second base will be Cara Stahl, while Sydney Bennington takes the shortstop post. Both are juniors with plenty of experience, Magruder said.
At third base will be sophomore Bailey Rehm while Cassidy McCord, a sophomore, will be in center field.
"Allie Cook will move from center field to catcher. She may possibly be one of the best catchers in the state this year," Magruder said. "She played pretty well in the outfield last year but she's one to watch as catcher."
Some versatile players this year include Hannah Mozingo, a freshman, and Jai Ehir Jackson, a sophomore. Magruder said he expects "big things out of them."
He noted that Mozingo also can play catcher.
Others players include Jordyn Smith, sophomore, who will play outfield.
Magruder said his utility players - Jordan Haley, Delaney Denniston, Allie Barry, Amanda Medovic and Molly Beaver - are all versatile and will move around the field as needed.
"At the least we are hoping to make it down state for a shot at the state title. We hope to get better as the season goes on," Magruder said. "I think we have strength in our pitchers and we are pretty strong defensively. We have a lot of speed. I think offensively we will be OK. We have some young players and it will take them some time to get in the groove."
As for team leaders, Magruder points to his seniors, especially Basinger, Gast and Zavolta.
Assistant coaches include Ambrose Bober and Ed Cihy, who have been with the program since the mid-1990s.