TENNERTON- Replacing two four-year starters in the infield will be the the biggest challenge for Buckhannon-Upshur entering the season.
The Lady Bucs are coming off a banner campaign in 2012, compiling a 25-6 record before falling to Robert C. Byrd, 5-2, in the regional semifinals.
"We return a good nucleus from last year," B-U coach Tom Hasbrouck said. "But we must rebuild our infield because of graduation losses."
All is not lost for B-U along the front line of defense, however, as Brooklyn Waddell returns. She was a Class AAA all-state second teamer last spring after batting .490 with four homers, 16 doubles, five triples, 28 stolen bases and 25 RBIs.
Waddell is expected to move from second base to shortstop this season.
Lindsay Wagoner also returns and can play any of the infield positions. Wagoner batted .314 with two homer and 23 RBIs last year as a sophomore.
"Other than those two players, it is up in the air who will be in the other infield positions," Hasbrouck said. "Hitting will be the key to who will play the other infield positions."
Senior Claire Davis could be in the infield mix as well after batting .348 with 16 RBIs in 2012 as the team's DP.
While there are some questions in the infield, the outfield returns a solid group.
Claire Linger, who batted .339 as a junior, is back in her familiar spot in center, and junior letter winner Sarah Ling will move from left to right field. Junior Julie Tenney, who Hasbrouck said is the most improved player from last year, is projected to play in left field.
The pitching spot also will be solid as Megan Williams is back. The senior went 19-6 last season.
"Megan will have to provide the bulk of our pitching again this year," Hasbrouck said. "We do have several younger players who are showing good promise as well."
Allie Hays, a junior transfer from Notre Dame, could supply some innings.
Casey Frederick, who lettered last year as a freshman, will be at catcher.
"She has shown a lot of leadership behind the plate so far this season," Hasbrouck said.
Fourteen of the Lady Bucs' 22 players are freshmen or sophomores.
"We're quite young," Hasbrouck said. "But we have good leadership from our four seniors.
"With our returning players, we should put a pretty solid starting lineup in the field. Depth at the varsity level, however, may be a problem for us."
B-U will play a competitive Big 10 Conference schedule. Non-conference games against Logan, Jefferson, Musselman, Morgantown and University are also on the slate.
"Our schedule is probably the toughest we have ever had," said Hasbrouck, who has guided the Lady Bucs to consecutive league titles. "Robert C. Byrd, Bridgeport, Lincoln and East Fairmont are tough (Big 10) teams, and I expect some other teams in our conference to also show improvement."
B-U will open the season March 19 at home against University.