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Softball preview: Hinsdale South's quest for Gold requires rookie help

As the season starts, there are some certainties and some question marks for the Hornets.

Jess Buckridge returns as part of Hinsdale South's 1-2 punch in the pitching circle. File photo by Bill Ackerman —
Jess Buckridge returns as part of Hinsdale South's 1-2 punch in the pitching circle. File photo by Bill Ackerman —

DARIEN — As Hinsdale South enters the 2013 season, softball coach Kelly Van Hout does so with some known commodities and some big question marks.

Time will tell how it all works out.

"Things are going to play out," Van Hout said. "We have a solid group of upperclassmen, but we also have four freshmen I'm hesitant to talk a lot about. I think they will have an impact, I just don't know when and how. We have juniors coming up from junior varsity, but I'm not sure how it will all come together. It's going to be a rat race to fill needed spots with freshmen or juniors."

Outfield and middle infield are the two biggest areas of need for the Hornets. While Van Hout will wait until game action to see what players fit where, she knows how she will arrive at her lineup.

"Ultimately, it comes down to the best nine or 10 girls, whether they're seniors or freshmen," she said. "That's how it is. We're going to start the best 10 kids in our program regardless of how old they are."

Van Hout christened the 2013 team as one of the hardest working groups she has had and one that needed little time to develop team chemistry. Still, the team picture won't come into focus until the season starts to unfold.

"I think it will take a few games to figure things out and deal with the growing pains," Van Hout said.

So far that on-field development has not taken place. The wet, frigid weather led to the Hornets having their first three games of the season canceled, including today's clash with Plainfield North.

Van Hout said her team has a list of about 30 goals it would like to accomplish this season, foremost among them is winning the West Suburban Gold conference and follow that with a regional title.

Pitching should be an area of strength with Jessica Buckridge and Megan White both back inside the pitcher's circle, and Van Hout believes the offense should be equally strong.

"We lost some big bats and some big shoes to fill, but I think our offense will be a strength," she said. "We need to have a different hero every night. We can't ride one or two kids all year. We need to constantly have kids emerging. Everyone has to contribute, whether it's a freshman or a senior."

Meet the Hornets

Kelly Van Hout

2012 record: 23-12 (7-3 West Suburban Gold)

Top players:

Jessica Buckridge sr. P

Lauren Cairo sr. C/3B

Sabrina Kuchta jr. 3B/OF/SS

Emily Mihalkanin sr. 1B/U

Megan White jr. P

Next game: 11 a.m. Saturday vs. York in Darien

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