HINSDALE — There are teams that rely on veterans and teams that skew young.
Hinsdale Central is doing both this season.
"We have six starters coming back and the rest of the team is made up of freshmen," coach Lee Maciejewski said. "So we have a balance of returning veterans and girls new to the team who are going to have to become acclimated to the speed of the game at an 18U level when they played 14U over the summer. A lot will depend on how quickly they come along, but the freshman group is pretty talented."
The development of the young group should be expedited due to the work of Al Coppersmith, Maciejewski's longtime assistant who runs clinics and camps in the offseason and helps monitor the development of Central's players. That young group had to wait a little longer than expected to get a taste of varsity ball as the Red Devils had their first two games of the season, March 19 and 20, canceled due to weather.
Maciejewski has long brought young players up to the varsity level, so he is ready for that challenge, or lack of one, once the season does finally get started.
"It's not a challenge. Ever since I've been coaching I've always tried to bring freshmen to the varsity level because it gives a backbone to your entire program," the coach said. "I do that consistently. By the time they're seniors, they've seen almost everything."
A trio of sophomores who were varsity players last season should provide part of the backbone for the varsity team. Faith Koffron brings stability to the catcher position, Emma Day can play two of the three outfield positions, and Annemarie Tracey, though a natural outfielder, will pitch and play the infield for the Red Devils.
The 2011 season was plagued with injuries that led to a five-win season, and Central struggled in the West Suburban Silver last spring, but the Red Devils are primed to make a jump this season.
"Our talent level is better," Maciejewski said. "When every girl in your program is playing year-round softball and you don't have to bring girls in just to fill in spots, that's an advantage. That's how our kids are so our skill level is up compared to where it has been."
The struggles of two years ago stung at the time, but in a way, they are still paying dividends as Central gets ready for this season.
"The camaraderie built that season spread throughout the program, and the attention to development that season carried over and is continuing," Maciejewski said. "I'm blessed to work with kids who care about each other, and that shows."
Meet the Red Devils
Coach: Lee Maciejewski
2012 record: 15-18 (2-10 West Suburban Silver)
Lauren Daleen jr. 3B
Emma Day so. RF
Alexa Heydenberk sr. 1B
Fatih Koffron so. C
Mary Somerfield sr. CF
Annemarie Tracey so. P/SS
Next game: 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 2 at Morton