After coming within one win of reaching the Class A state championship game last season, East Hardy hopes to put itself in a similar situation this season.
"Our goal this season is to make it back to the state tournament," East Hardy coach Calvin Mongold said. "We have a tough section and region to get through, so it isn't going to be easy."
The Lady Cougars, who finished with an impressive 23-6 mark last season, were eliminated by eventual state champion Buffalo in semifinal play last season.
Photo courtesy of Carl Holcomb
East Hardy’s Morgan Mongold will return as one of the Lady Cougars’ top players in 2012.
"We had a good expereince with the state tourney last year," Mongold said. "We just ran into a good team in Buffalo and fell a little short."
East Hardy lost four players from last year's team, including a pair of all-staters.
Gone are Lindsey Basye, Ashley Dove, Emily Beck and Raven Mongold. Basye and Dove were all-state pitching selections.
"We lost four really good seniors, including all of our pitching," Mongold said. "But we do have a good group of younger kids that I think will step up on the mound for us."
In all, the Lady Cougars will return five starters this season, including junior shortstop Morgan Mongold, who batted .396 and smacked six home runs last season.
"Morgan has to pick up where she left off last season," Mongold said. "She worked really hard in the offseason and I expect good things from her."
Sophomore third baseman Ray Ann Foltz and sophomore catcher Marilyn Cassell will join Mongold in the infield as returning starters.
The other two starters returning are outfielders Sarah Liller and Jade Foltz.
Liller is a junior and Foltz is a sophomore.
Freshman Morgan Basye is expected to join the duo in the outfield in her first season.
The biggest concern for Mongold entering the season is on the mound, where the Lady Cougars return little to no varsity experience.
"We need to find some pitching," Mongold said. "We're hoping some of our younger kids can step up and get some innings for us."
The top two candidates to take the mound for East Hardy are sophomores Jodie Funkhouser and Autumn Mathias. Both pitched for the junior varsity team last season.
"Jodie and Autumn have showed pretty good stuff early on in practice," Mongold said. "We're going to need them to carry us in the pitching department this year. I think once they gain some expericne, they will be very good down the stretch of the season."
Senior Jessica Collier is expected to see time as a utility play for the Lady Cougars.
East Hardy will open the season on Mach 16 at home against Keyser.
"We're excited to get the season started," Mongold said. "We have pretty good group of girls and I think the future looks pretty bright for us."
After their home opener, the Lady Cougars will play back-to-back road games at Martinsburg and rival Moorefield.