WHEATON — A handful of one-run losses kept Wheaton Warrenville South from having a very successful 2012 campaign.
Now, with six starters returning to the field this season, five of which are seniors, the Tigers hope another year of experience pushes them over the top.
"I'm excited that we've got a great group of seniors coming back," said coach Jeff Pawlak. "They've really been focused and dedicated and are showing great leadership.
"We did lose some good girls but we have girls who will step up."
Leading the way is Sammy Granger who is in line to handle most of the pitching duties. Hannah Keating will catch, Joanna Drew (third base) and Jenny Harkabus (shortstop) make up the left side of the infield, and Kimmy Hayes (first base and right field) and Cameron Briggs (outfield) are also back.
Fellow seniors Erika Mrzlak and Bridget Doyle could also contribute.
"Sammy has grown up a lot and taken on a captain role," the coach said. "She is really focused. She had a back injury that kept her out of volleyball but she has worked hard to get strong again. She is as competitive of a kid as we've got on the team."
To take the next step, Wheaton Warrenville South needs to shore up all areas.
"The things we've been stressing from Day 1 is little things matter," Pawlak said. "We lost a lot of one-run games, games we either had the lead in or were obviously right in. Last year, we had to learn how to win. Now the focus is on those little things, making contact, running the bases, and hopefully that takes us to the next level."
The Tigers will be challenged by a daunting schedule, both within the DuPage Valley Conference and with a non-conference slate that includes Downers Grove North, Lockport and Oak Park-River Forest.
"We have a lot of girls returning and that is a reassuring thing," Pawlak added. "They are familiar with the speed of the game and what to expect. I hope that experience helps this year."