Cooperstown softball coach Dave Bliss said he's relying on a young roster this season.
After finishing 4-15 last season, seventh-year coach Bliss said he envisions better results this season. Much of that optimism comes from young players who have infused energy and excitement into the team, Bliss said.
"This team loves to practice," Bliss said. "I've never had players come up to me after practice and want to do more sprints or more drills, but that's what this team is like. It's refreshing."
The Redskins opened the season with a 15-1 non-league thumping of Laurens and are 2-2.
But the early going hasn't been without lumps.
Cooperstown lost sophomore third baseman Stephanie Hascup for the season. She's scheduled to have foot surgery over spring break. Bliss said the injury isn't softball related and it's something that's been monitored for a while.
Hascup batted .615 through four games.
"She's been playing very well in the field and is our team leader in terms of emotional leadership," Bliss said. "For a sophomore, she has a lot of leadership skills. That's a big hit, but we have some other players who will step up, I think."
Bliss said he wasn't sure who would replace Hascup, but sophomore Cailin Huggins could see some time at third when she's not pitching. Huggins, who hit .400 last season, will split time inside the circle with freshman Anna Sams.
Sams is 2-1 with a 0.86 ERA this season and has struck out 37 in 24 innings. Bliss said Sams throws a fastball, changeup, drop and curve.
"If you have two decent pitchers, you have to develop them both," Bliss said. "It'll depend on the game and what kind of hitters the other team has."
Outside of a handful of veterans, Bliss said this team is young.
Junior outfielders Jamie Sharratt and Marie DiLorenzo, sophomore shortstop Miranda Menhinick and senior first baseman Samantha Fox return.
Senior Jen Wehner, The Daily Star's Player of the Year in girls basketball after leading the Redskins to the Class C state semifinals, is playing varsity softball for the first time and will see time in the outfield.
"We've got a bunch of young players who could make an immediate impact, too," Bliss said.
Former Cooperstown Little League baseball standout Molly Pearlman, a freshman, will split time at shortstop and catcher.
Sophomore first baseman Sawyer Graham and sophomore outfield/third baseman Liz Kennison will also see playing time.
"I was disappointed I couldn't help the team reach its full potential last year," Bliss said. "I'd be very surprised if we weren't well above .500 and back in sectionals this season. This team has a lot of softball savvy. They understand the game better than any team I've had in my seven years as head coach."