OAK GLEN - Transition could very well be the word most used by Oak Glen softball coach Michelle McHaffie for her 2012 Golden Bears, which have experience coming back, but also must replace the meat of her batting order.
McHaffie has one player chasing her fourth letter, four looking for their third and another with a pair, however, Oak Glen's No. 4, 5, 6 and 7 hitters all picked up diplomas last spring.
The two players counted on the most could be senior Tayler Maxwell, a three-year letterwinner at shortstop, and junior pitcher-third baseman Jordan Cunningham.
Maxwell hit .340 at leadoff a year ago, and most impressively did not strike out in 53 appearances. Meanwhile, Cunningham was the team's leading hitter with a .368 average.
Senior Maddison McPherson returns at second base with Tia Smith back in the outfield and also being used as the designated player. Juniors Marissa Murray returns in the circle and can play third and the outfield while Casey Patterson is back in center for her third campaign.
Junior Shayni Vega and sophomore Ashley Pryor will share catching duties with sophomore Mykelti McGaffic playing the outfield and classmate Jackie Cool utilizing her hitting skills at the designated player.
Gone from last year's squad are Casey Allison, Brittany Behanna, Ramsey Patterson and Jessica Swiger.
''We really expect to be strong up the middle on defense,'' McHaffie said. ''That is where most of our returning lettermen will be playing. Cunningham has really worked hard in the off season on pitching and just overall aspects of the game and will also help us in other spots.
''There is some valuable experience gone, and the middle of our batting order could suffer, but we have some kids we really expect to step up and fill in at the plate.
''The girls have been making very good use of the practice time we have had and have responded well to this point. We are very optimistic about the season and looking to improve on last season.''
The Golden Bears were 3-15 on the 2011 campaign.
OAK GLEN 2012 SOFTBALL SCHEDULE
Mar. 24: at Buckeye Local (2)11 a.m.
Mar. 26: Weirton Madonna5:30 p.m.
Mar. 27: Linsly5:30 p.m.
Mar. 28: Brooke5 p.m.
Mar. 31: at Beaver Local (2)noon
Apr. 2: Wheeling Central 5 p.m.
Apr. 3: at Linsly4:30 p.m.
Apr. 4: East Liverpool1 p.m.
Apr. 5: at Indian Creeknoon
Apr. 7: Wellsvillenoon
Apr. 9: at Wheeling Central5 p.m.
Apr. 12: at Toronto5 p.m.
Apr. 13: Steubenville5 p.m.
Apr. 14: Bellaire (2)2 p.m.
Apr. 16: at East Liverpool5 p.m.
Apr. 17: Indian Creek5 p.m.
Apr. 18: Weir5:30 p.m.
Apr. 19: South Side4:30 p.m.
Apr. 23: Bishop Donahue5 p.m.
Apr. 27: at Steubenville5:30 p.m.
Apr. 28: at Harrison Central (2)noon
Apr. 30: Edison5 p.m.
May 1: Toronto5 p.m.