Bob Berger returns as the Lions' head coach after a six-year absence. His philosophy hasn't changed much since he left in 1986: You can expect a scrappy bunch of Lions trying to keep the score close and come out on top in the end.
After coaching four years at South Carroll from 1976-79, Berger coached seven years at Liberty starting in 1980. He inherits four starters from last year's 9-10 team under coach Dale Green.
"We've got a good nucleus of quality returning players to go along with some new faces," Berger said.
"We're switching positions with some of the players, looking to find some kind of continuity, and that might hurt us in the beginning but we should be fine."
The Lions return four seniors who hit .375 or better last season, including catcher Amy Wolffe, who led the county in hitting at .561.
Andrea Dixon (.375) will do most of the pitching and also play third. Berger is moving captain Carrie Myers (.443) from second to first, and Laura Veise (.378) will be in the outfield.
The middle infield is inexperienced, but Berger is confident junior Robin Leeds and freshman Jessie Horneman will come along as the season progresses. Freshman Charlene Rice will be at third and can spell Dixon on the mound when needed.
Senior Kim Ross and junior Heather Lee will join Veise in the outfield. Lee, a left-hander, likely will lead off for the Lions.
"Defensively, we should be fine as the season goes along. We have some mature and skilled people who should be able to compliment one another," Berger said.
"On offense, we'll be looking for singles -- stealing and scratching for whatever we can get," he said. "Heather Lee is a lefty and gives us a different look as a leadoff hitter and Andrea Dixon and Amy Wolff should drive in a lot of runs."
The pitching shouldn't be a problem with the experienced Dixon and an occasional change of pace with Rice. Dixon had some back problems earlier, but now appears rested and ready to go.
"Andrea's a very strong, power pitcher and then I think the ninth-grader [Rice] will be able to surprise a few people," Berger said.
"It also comes down to fundamentals with the people playing behind them -- we're going to have to stay away from the mental errors."