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A few position changes and some big graduation losses may have the Twinsburg softball team on a learning curve for a bit, but the Tigers have plenty of talent and experience for this spring.
Head coach Chris Shaffer, entering his second year as head coach and third overall, has a host of athletes back from a 14-10 club.
Twinsburg got its feet wet in the Suburban League as the locals placed fourth in the rugged National Division with a record of 7-7.
"We have another tough schedule with the Suburban League as one of the toughest conferences in the state," said Shaffer, whose club had a slew of close losses in 2016.
"Two teams, Brecksville and Nordonia, were regional [qualifiers] last season," he added.
Second-team All-Ohio selection Brooklyn Benkowski has graduated, along with All-Suburban League pitcher Nicole Brown, and four-year center fielder Grace Ryan.
Those were the only seniors, but they were tremendous and filled a lot of roles for the Tigers, who open the season March 30 at Brecksville at 4:30 p.m.
Returning starters are senior multi-season fixtures Najah Thornton, Katie Elnikar and Jada Farmer.
This trio will lead Twinsburg, along with veteran junior Marissa Thirion, the Tiger's most experienced pitcher.
"Najah will be moving from shortstop to catcher while Katie will move from first base to shortstop," explained Shaffer, who will have one of the leagues top centerfielders in Farmer.
Thirion, who has played second base and in the outfield, is the teams number one pitcher after Brown (9-5) departed.
Junior Alexis Lopez, another multi-year starter, moves from third base to first base. Lopez has plenty of experience and some pop in her bat.
Another returning junior starter, Jessica Katrine will play third base and in the outfield. She played in right field last year.
"Our goal is to win the league which is the case every year," Shaffer said. "To do that we will have to play great defense and take advantage of scoring opportunities when we get them."
Other returning lettermen include senior Brooke Pleta (infield/outfield), senior Kayla Grys (infield/outfield), junior Sarah Thompson (outfielder), and sophomore Gabrielle Grumbos (infield/outfield).
"We were counting on Paige Pleta a sophomore returning letter winner at shortstop, but she had a knee injury in the off-season and will likely miss the season," said Shaffer.
Top newcomers, according to the coach are: juniors Emily Adams (pitcher), McKenna Backo (catcher) and Ashley Voytek (infielder), along with sophomores Mary Leskovec (catcher) and Hana Hayes (pitcher/outfielder).
"Our pitchers do a great job of throwing strikes and they will give us a chance in every game," said Shaffer.
In the last three losses of the season including the sectional finals, the Lady Tigers were defeated by the last at bat in walk-off fashion. Shaffer hopes to turn that around.
The Lady Tigers host Stow-Munroe Falls April 3, host Wadsworth April 4, and visits Hudson April 6 before competing in the Akron Racers Tournament April 8-9.
Twinsburg also has tough non-league games against Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (April 14 at home), Solon (at home April 27), and Cuyahoga Heights (doubleheader at home April 22).