WEIRTON - Dave Hinerman, the new (former) Weir softball coach, inherits a team that went 6-15 last season, taking over for the departed Jason Angle, who decided to return to coaching baseball at Weir.
That's not a very good record, but Hinerman, who served as the Red Riders softball coach from 2005-2007, is optimistic because more than half of his 2012 squad are experienced letter winners.
''We have three senior co-captains that are outstanding leaders,'' said Hinerman, who plans to use those three along with six juniors, as the nucleus for his team. ''They have taken the younger kids under their wing so to speak.''
Those veterans are Taylor Gianangeli, Danica Rasicci and Caitlyn Fodor. Each has three years of varsity experience.
Gianangeli saw time last year at catcher and first base, Fodor also plays first base and also in the outfield, while Rasicci is a veteran outfielder.
''We'll rely on Micah DiBacco, a junior, as the ace of our pitching staff,'' Hinerman said. ''She pitched a lot last year, but we also have two freshman pitchers that will get innings in. This is the first time in awhile that we've had three quality pitchers available and we can use any one of them in any situation.''
The two freshman pitchers on Hinerman's staff are Abbie Pratt and Allison Fuccy.
Along with DiBacco, Hinerman will be counting on several other members of the junior class.
Miekka Buffo, who already has two years of experience behind her, leads the class. She catches and also started frequently in left field a year ago. Then, there is Emily Zatezalo, an infielder that saw duty as a designated player last year, and Haley McLaughlin, an infielder.
Hinerman said he has an athletic sophomore class that includes Alyssa Shingle, who started in center field last year and Ashlynn Drizake, an infielder. Morgan Rice, Bailie Tusick, Kelly LeMasters and Jillian Karavanic round out the sophomore class. Rice and Tusick are outfield candidates, with LeMasters getting looks as the catcher and as an infielder and Karavanic also is vying for playing time in the infield..
Freshman Samantha Tate is vying for playing time at catcher as is Brianna Rosnick in the outfield.
''In addition to pitching, I think one of our strengths will be that we will score runs,'' Hinerman said. ''We haven't been outside enough against live pitching so I'm not sure how strong we will be, but we have some girls back from last year that hit the ball well. We also have good speed.
''We'll have to depend upon our three seniors and the veteran juniors to carry us in the early going, but I really think we'll be ready for tournament play by the end of the regular season.
''It's just great to be coaching at my alma mater. It is like a dream come true and I'm optimistic, but I'm not over optimistic. And one of the reasons for my optimism is that these girls truly are the hardest working group of girls I have ever coached.''
WEIR 2012 SOFTBALL SCHEDULE
Mar. 24: St. John (2)noon
Mar. 26: Steub. Central5 p.m.
Mar. 27: at Indian Creek5:30 p.m.
Mar. 29: Magnolia5:30 p.m.
Mar. 31: Bishop Donahue (2)noon
Apr. 3: Madonna4:30 p.m.
Apr. 4: Brooke5 p.m.
Apr. 7: Union Local (2)noon
Apr. 10: Indian Creek5 p.m.
Apr. 11: Martins Ferry5:30 p.m.
Apr. 12: Steubenville5 p.m.
Apr. 13: at Brooke5:30 p.m.
Apr. 14: at Madonna3 p.m.
Apr. 17: at Martins Ferry5:30 p.m.
Apr. 18: at Oak Glen5:30 p.m.
Apr. 19: at Magnolia5:30 p.m.
Apr. 21: Harrison Central (2)2:30 p.m.
Apr. 24: at Steubenville5:30 p.m.
Apr. 26: at Steub. Central5:30 p.m.
Apr. 28: at Beaver Localnoon