WHEELING - Linsly's softball team has had its share of tough times the last few seasons. But Coach Darryl Crews sees the Cadets turning the corner soon.
''We have struggled the last couple of years,'' said Crews, entering his third season as head coach after a stint as an assistant for Liz Hofreuter-Landini.
''My first year, we didn't have much experience. Last year, we had more experience but were young in most positions.
''Toward the end of last season we became more a more competitive team.''
Linsly finished 3-17 in 2011, but Crews said the record was somewhat misleading.
''We had one of those seasons where we would be right in some games and then give up a big inning from which we were not able to recover,'' Crews said. ''Our players have learned a lot from adversity and are looking forward to an improved season. We hope to make improvements this year in every aspect of the game.''
Crews lost just four players from last year, but two of them, a pair of Laurens, were four-year letterwinners - Novotney and Zavatsky.
Novotney batted .395, while Zavatsky hit .310. Both were team captains.
Just like last season, younger players will comprise the core of the squad.
''I guess half of our starters could be sophomores and freshmen,'' Crews said. ''Also, this year it looks as if we will have enough for a jayvee team for the first time in five or six years.
''To me, that's a good sign our program is headed in the right direction.''
The Cadets have seven sophomores who play significant roles last year.
Leading the way is Sarah Johnson, who was Linsly's main pitcher.
''She gave us very many good innings,'' Crews said. ''She was sometimes hurt by her inexperience and that of the team. She has worked hard and and gotten stronger in the offseason.''
Peyton Coss brings catching experience, while Ava Tennant is strong at third, but is capable of being strong at other positions.
Other sophomores who lettered last spring include Karyn Kovalick, Danielle Muster, Justine Tarr and Olivia McDonald. McDonald will miss most of the season due to recent surgery.
Emma Cecil is a two-year letterwinner who brings a a nifty glove to her shortstop position. A junior, Cecil batted .450 in 2011 and was voted the Cadets' offensive and defensive Most Valuable Player.
Senior letterwinners back in the fold include Cecilia Favede, Annika Klemperer and Julia Bird.
Favede hit .353 last year, despite being hampered by injuries. Klemperer is another ''hard-working'' outfielder, while Bird returns to the squad after missing last season.
Returning players that didn't letter last year are junior Brie Weimer and sophomore Jazmin Jackson.
Other juniors looking to make an impact are Josie Mosman and Claudia Palmer, whom Crews calls a good athlete who hasn't played softball since eighth grade.
Sophomores in the mix are Peyton Heyde, Abby Snyder, Madison Steinkirchner and Trish King.
Katie Gedeon, Amanda Medovich, Abby Miller, Samantha Schaal and Katie Smith are the Cadets' freshman.
Crews is assisted by Amanda Smith and Kayla Seidler.
LINSLY 2012 SOFTBALL SCHEDULE
March 23: Bishop Donahue5 p.m.
March 24: at Trinity (2)11 a.m.
March 26: at St. John5 p.m.
March 27: at Oak Glen5:30 p.m.
March 28: Bridgeport5 p.m.
March 31: at River (2)1 p.m.
April 2: St. John5 p.m.
April 3: Oak Glen4:30 p.m.
April 4: at Toronto5:30 p.m.
April 9: at Weirton Madonna6 p.m.
April 10: at Bridgeport5 p.m.
April 12: Wheeling Central5 p.m.
April 14: Barnesville (2)2 p.m.
April 17: at Bishop Donahue5 p.m.
April 19: at Wheeling Central5 p.m.
April 23: Toronto5:30 p.m.
May 1: Jeff. Co. Christ.5 p.m.
May 8: at Jeff. Co. Christ.5 p.m.