Byrd said last year's disappointment forged a strong bond among the players.
"We're a lot closer this year than we have been in the past,'' she said. "Our team loves food so we go out and eat all the time. We have sleepovers and little get-togethers. It helps with team chemistry. The seniors are very encouraging. We want to be there for [the underclassmen] on and off the field.''
The Redskins boast one of the most talented and young teams in the state with all the ingredients in place for a title chase.
They have a 1-2 pitching combination of sophomores Emily Davis, who posted a 9-1 record last year, and Courtney Rogers (10-2). Rogers, who earned AAA all-state second-team honors, also added six home runs, 12 doubles and 36 RBIs.
Casto (.521, 23 RBIs, 21 stolen bases), who was also a Class AAA all-state second-team pick, and sophomore shortstop Cassi Sargent (.414, 11 doubles, 25 RBIs) turned in 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 Reynolds (.431, 18 RBIs) make the lineup even stronger along with Byrd.
The Redskins know they have to stick to the lessons they have learned through this experience if they want to go where no Hurricane team has gone before.
"Every game, that's the only thing you focus on,'' said Reynolds. "We don't focus on anything else. You can't give up. No matter what, you push through. I think we can win it all.''
"If we push ourselves hard enough,'' added Casto, "we can win the state championship.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at tatkin...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4811.