2011 record: 8-8 league, 9-9 overall
Top returners: Senior Lauren Lettieri (2B); juniors Bridgette Vogan (C), Erin Vogan (P/1B); sophomore Allison Bluhm (SS).
Need to know: Erin Vogan returns after leading the Vikings in just about every offensive category last year, hitting .480 with five triples. She has "great softball sense and is a great team player," coach Chuck Struhar said. Her twin sister, Bridgette, will be behind the plate. She's a year-round player and her experience and leadership stand out. Bluhm may be the Vikings' most improved player. She's at short and Lettieri, a three-year starter, is at second.
Struhar's teams are always well-schooled in the fundamentals. Playing tight defense is a key to Mt. Hebron's season, he said, and the pitching staff needs to "avoid walks." If they can get consistent offense, the Vikings can be spoilers.
2011 record: 2-15 league, 2-16 overall
Top returners: Senior Erin Yarn (1B); sophomores Tori Gordon (P), Sydney Heflinger (3B/C), Heidi Larsen (IF).
Need to know: The Scorpions return just four veterans, and only one senior. But that upperclassman —Yarn — is "a strong leader on and off the field," said coach Shelby Rhodes, and "an all-around smart player with a great bat."
Oakland Mills needs a strong core to upright a struggling program, and Rhodes expects a lot of the returning players. "I expect them all to show true leadership as they lead the Oakland Mills program to a brighter future.
"My team needs to believe in themselves and take pride in their abilities," Rhodes said.
2011 record: 13-4 league, 15-5 overall
Top returners: Seniors Amy Bresson (2B), Rachel Brown (P), Natalie Leffler (SS), Megan Maloney (OF).
Need to know: The Gators finished tied for second in the league last year and have the star power to improve. They have the offense (Maloney), pitching (Brown) and defense (Bresson and Leffler). All were all-county picks in 2011. Maloney led the league with a .597 average and Brown struck out 101 batters, while Bresson and Leffler have impressive glove work.
Reservoir needs "the senior leadership to consistently step up and help our underclassman develop and grow throughout the season," coach Julie Frisvold said.
Maloney, committed to play at Slippery Rock next spring, has also shown "exceptional defense" in the outfield, said Frisvold. The center fielder will make pitchers pay for their mistakes. She had 11 extra-base hits in 2011, and has a homer and a triple in this young season.
Bresson (Lynchburg) and Leffler (Eckerd) will also play college ball next year.
2011 record: 13-4 league, 13-5 overall