GREENCASTLE -- South Putnam softball is coming off a year to remember. They captured the West Central Conference and Putnam County titles, but most recognizable was their perfect regular season.
Head coach Chris Jones welcomes back a core group of girls that are looking to learn from their few mistakes last year and have an even more impressive year in 2010.
"They've been working hard. They really have," Jones said. "We've got a lot of good work in, so I'm excited about it. We're fairly young this year. We have five returning girls who played for us last year.
"We have one senior, Krystal Welch; we have a junior in Megan Barnes and three sophomores that played for us last year in Brooke Boetjer, Emily Dabkowski and Jenny Thompson," he continued. "We have a pretty good core coming back and then we have some younger girls as well that will fill in and help us out a little bit.
"We look to build off some things from last year and make some improvements in some areas," Jones added.
It's hard to imagine a team desiring more success, but an abrupt end to their season last year has the Eagles ready and poised to make some noise.
"With last year, being my first year, I learned a lot of things -- both good and bad, and the girls did as well," Jones said. "Having some experience coming back is going to help.
"And really the younger girls have been brought up with some pretty good programs on some different teams, so they look like they've had some experience and know the game of softball pretty well," he said. "It's just getting them meshing and gelling together. But so far, we're doing well. Our team chemistry, which is a big thing for us this year, is really good. So I'm excited about that. I'm just excited to get started to be honest.
"To have the success we had last year is a good thing -- a good building block foundation to build on what we want to do," Jones said.
Sophomore Brooke Boetjer will be a powerful presence on the mound for the Eagles, but she's going to have more help than usual this season. Plus, Jones pointed out the team is going to be able to move around and play multiple positions if needed.
"Yeah, you'll probably see Brooke a little bit," Jones said with a smile. "We have a couple other girls, younger girls, (that people) will see from time to time. To be totally honest, I'm not set on anything yet. I'm not even set on where everybody is going to play. The good news is we have a lot of flexibility with our girls and as long as we step in and play the rolls game to game, and if they buy into it, we can have some success.
"And that's going to be the biggest thing -- people are going to be in different rolls in different games. But they've been embracing it in practice and working hard wherever I've put them," he commented.
The Eagles are a much smaller squad this year, having just 12 players, but Jones has been pleased with the effort and work he's seen from his team.
When asked if the team had set any goals for the season, Jones slyly acknowledged they did, but had no intention on letting the cat out of the bag. He also spoke of the leadership he's getting from some of his veteran players.
"We have some goals, we do, and I think they're good goals. I don't really want to let them out what they are, but we set some goals and some standards for ourselves," Jones grinned. "A lot of it is based off of the success we had last year and some things we did. And it's some things that we didn't do so well, that we want to improve on as a team.
"The good part of it is, I haven't had to initiate a lot of it," he continued. "They've said a lot of the things in our team meetings that I've wanted to hear. So it's good to see them step forward and we have a lot of leaders. We don't have necessarily one big leader, but we have a group of them, which is nice to see and allows us in practice to put them in different groups and let different people lead and work with the younger girls and things like that.
"It's been really good to see our leadership from our older girls. From Krystal, from Megan and even from some of those sophomores stepping us and being leaders for those freshmen," Jones commented.
South Putnam will take on Rockville tonight at 5 p.m.