Cloverdale High School softball coach Greg Crum is hoping to put the 2005 season behind him.
The Clovers finished 6-17 overall last season and 2-10 in the West Central Conference and Crum is hoping to improve on that.
"For us to be succesful this year, we need to become a better offensive team," he said. "Defensive-wise, we need to be able field the ball and put it into play."
Cloverdale will be a younger team compared to last year's squad. They only have one senior returning this season, Emily Puffer, who did not play last year, and only a couple of juniors, but Crum is optimistic about this years team.
"We're very young this year, but I'm pleased on how well they are listening and how hard they are working in these first couple of weeks," he said. "If we can hit the ball into play and field the ball good in early in the season, then I think we will get better throughout the season. We just need to get some confidence.
Cloverdale might not have the experience back this year like it did last season with five seniors on the team, but it won't be as inexperience as what people might think. The Clovers have one of their pitchers returning from last year's squad, Nicole Mallory, and their catcher Hannah Monnett for them. Mallory pitched half the season for the Clovers including their sectional game. She posted an earn run average of 2.20, while Monnett had a fielding average of .964, which included 144 put outs.
"Right now, our middle is were we are the strongest at and a pitcher and catcher can carry a long way," Crum said. "Hannah and Nicole are the strength of this team right now and we will be riding on them. Hopefully we can ride them until we develop some of the younger players."
The rest of the Clovers' defense will be made up several younger players that are returning which includes Stephanie Tutterow, Charlie Jonte and Kristen Schroer. Tutterow will be returning to centerfield for Cloverdale this year. Last season, she posted a .947 fielding percentage with 18 putouts. Jonte will be back in leftfield this year. She ended the 2005 season with a fielding percentage of .775 and had three putouts and three assists.
The Clovers will be starting off with a strong defensive base with Monnett and Mallory leading the way, and they will also have a pretty decent batting-lineup as well. Monnett and Mallory will be pulling double duty for the team this year, as they will be the main sluggers for Clovedale in the absence of Rachel Jones and Rachel Varnes, who both were hitting in the .300's. Monnett posted a .237 last season and had 10 runs batted in and two doubles. Mallory hit .224 last season and had nine RBI and one triple.
"Mallory, Monnett and Puffer have all been hitting good in practice and those three should be our strongest hitters from what I have seen in practice," Crum said.
One thing that Crum has noticed about his team this year is its speed. He said that this is the fastest team he has had since has been coaching at Cloverdale.
"We have team speed this year and that is something that we haven't had for a while," Crum said. "I want to be more of an offensive threat his year and the speed on this team should help us be that."
Even though he has a younger team this year, Crum still has the same goals -- be competitive in the county and conference.
"We want to be competitive in the county and conference, but we want to be as good as we can be by sectional time," Crum said "If we go out with a good attitude every night we can be in the position to be competitive in the sectional."
Cloverdale will start its season on April 3 when it travels to South Putnam to open up with WCC play.