WEIRTON - Chris Conti enters his 21st season at the helm of the Weirton Madonna softball team in a rebuilding year for the Blue Dons.
''We're very young,'' Conti said. ''But that's the way it goes. Sometimes you have to start over and come full circle. When you work with young talent, you have to wait till they mature and get more experience.''
After a 8-13 season, Conti lost seven seniors, six of which were starters.
The 2013 Blue Dons will consist of three seniors, two juniors, five sophomores and six freshman.
Leading the group will be senior left fielder Emalee Hvizdak. Last year's top hitter for Madonna, Hvizdak has been the No. 1 batter for Conti during the past three years.
Another senior Conti is excited about is infielder Madison Burchill.
''Maddie had to sit out a year due to the 365-day rule after she transferred from Weir last year,'' Conti said. ''She's a very good athlete and a good addition to our team. She's picking up right where she left off. She's doing a very good job.''
Amanda Paul was the team's starting second baseman last year, but will make the move to center field for her junior season.
''She can help us a lot (in center field),'' Conti pointed out. ''She has a quick, strong arm and is a very good decision maker.''
Amanda Pulice pitched the majority of the Blue Dons' games her freshman year and Conti expects nothing but improvements from the sophomore.
Also on the roster is senior Sara Alongi, junior Emily Pietranton, sophomores Annie Magnone, Carly Wilson, Aubrey Platek, and Montana Mascio.
Freshmen Taylor Thompson, Maria Notni, Courtney Kaczmarek, Brianna Fierro, Megan Boniti and Sarah Travaglino round out the 2013 Blue Dons.
''They're young, but the chemistry is good between them because they work together very well,'' Conti noted. ''They all have played softball locally together and a lot of them were even on the same team. They're a very close net group of girls.
''They're young but talented,'' he continued. ''It's kind of exciting. If they play together as a team, I look for good things. We can win a lot of games with young talent. I'm looking for a very successful year.''