For the first time in program history, Blythewood softball will be without coach Bucky Ware this season.
Ware is taking 2014 off to tend to a personal matter, but the team should hardly miss a beat under former Spring Valley coach Dwayne Jones, who has been Wares assistant for the past few seasons. Jones has 460 career wins as a head coach.
Blythewood has had a winning tradition from the outset, and the Bengals expect more of the same in 2014. Six starters return from last seasons 25-5 team that shared the Region 4-4A pennant with Spring Valley and made it to the district final round in the state playoffs.
Junior pitcher Katie Chappell (committed to College of Charleston), senior first baseman Jessica Roth (signed with Winthrop), junior shortstop Ansley Gilstrap (committed to USC Upstate), senior outfielder Michaela Wickham (committed to Southern Wesleyan), senior third baseman Lori Owens, sophomore outfielder Ashlee Romanik and senior outfielder Jessica Ergle are the veteran building blocks.
Catcher Sydney Burnsed and second baseman Maggie Herrera were varsity players last season, as well. Burnsed will be tasked to fill a hole created by the graduation loss of five-year starter Bailey Newman.
The goals remain the same at Blythewood winning a region championship and prepare for a long postseason run.
Blythewood opens the season March 10 at home against Northwestern.