Hurricane (26-7) turned in one of its best seasons in school history, but didn't have much to celebrate after getting eliminated in the sectional title game. The Redskins are fresh off their first Mountain State Athletic Conference championship and set a school record for victories, which has made their young squad even hungrier.
The Redskins boast a 1-2 pitching punch in sophomores Emily Davis (9-1) and Courtney Rogers (10-2). Rogers, who earned AAA all-state second-team honors, also added six home runs, 12 doubles and 36 RBIs.
Sophomore second baseman Madison Casto (.521, 23 RBIs, 21 stolen bases), also a AAA all-state second-team pick, and sophomore shortstop Cassi Sargent (.414, 11 doubles, 25 RBIs) are back after impressive freshman campaigns.
Senior center fielder Nicole Pierson (.448, six doubles, 23 RBIs), junior left fielder Addie Fullen (.393, four home runs, 25 RBIs), a AAA all-state second-team selection, and senior catcher Linzie Reynolds (.431, 18 RBIs) return to the starting lineup. Senior Haley Byrd will see time at first and third base.
Capital: First-year coach David Holt will lean heavily on senior four-year starters Haley King (pitcher) and Razhane Andrews (center field). The Cougars also welcome back junior third baseman Lexi Brown, a three-year starter, and junior first baseman Tori McGinnis, a two-year starter.
Charleston Catholic: First-year coach Kevin Corbett starts with a solid foundation in junior shortstop Brianna Ross, who batted .676 last season but didn't have enough at-bats to qualify for the leaders list with so many mercy-rule defeats. Ross also led the Fighting Irish in runs scored, stolen bases, doubles and triples. Senior Emma Sovick (.429) also returns after a solid year.
George Washington: Junior catcher Bailey Rabel is the top returning hitter with a .422 average to go along with 20 RBIs and 11 doubles. Junior outfielder Jessi Thevenin (.397) and senior Rachel Ward (.384) will keep the offense humming.
Nitro (8-16): The Wildcats have plenty of experience in seniors Melissa Belcher (left field), Chelsea Terwilliger (first base) and Chelsie Hall (second base) returning to starting positions along with juniors Amber Hughes, who will be the primary pitcher, and Halie Miller, who will move from third base to center field, and sophomores Nichole Brown (catcher) and Katie Jones (shortstop).
Poca: The Dots suffered a setback before the season began when they lost AA first-team all-state standout Madi McGrew for the season after the senior tore her anterior cruciate ligament in a basketball game in December. Poca will rely on sophomore shortstop Bri Bias and junior center fielder Natalie Parkins to carry the load while freshman pitcher Tori Ward has shown promise.
Sissonville (18-10): The Indians will be inexperienced with 10 of their 16 players freshmen, but they are used to winning after taking the middle school championship last year.
Senior pitcher-first baseman Bekah Baldwin, a Class AA all-state first-team pick, will be the catalyst after hitting .506 last season with 10 home runs, 15 doubles, and 36 RBIs while fanning 94 batters in 93 innings. Sissonville also welcomes back outfielder Emily Shaffer, junior outfielder Jamie Holmes and sophomores Andrea Harmon, Kayla Legg and Katelyn Linville.
South Charleston (13-10): The Black Eagles' only concern will be offense since they have one of the top pitchers in the Valley and probably the state in senior Alli Burdette.
The AAA all-state first-team selection posted a Kanawha Valley-best 0.78 ERA with 256 strikeouts as a junior last season. Burdette threw one perfect game, four no-hitters and seven shutouts while opponents hit just .097 against her. For good measure, the Elon recruit led the team with a .397 batting average.
Senior outfielders Meredith Cain and Kayli Hudson and junior catcher Mckenzie Catlett will add some pop to the lineup along with junior left fielder Kaylee Stanley, senior designated hitter Aaliyan Phillips and sophomore first baseman Jazmine Martin.
Winfield: Kelly Montgomery gets her first coaching job, but brings an extensive background to the program. She played at Ripley (1994-98) and at the University of Charleston.
The Generals' top two returning hitters are sophomores Kenna Markham, a first baseman-center fielder who hit .417, and Katie Legg (.397). Junior shortstop-outfielder Ally Funk (.356) and senior pitcher Taylor Raines (0.79 ERA) also return.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at tatkin...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4811.