Gilbert shared Region 5-3A honors with Midland Valley a year ago, and was one of only two Midlands-based teams in all classifications to advance past the district phase of the state playoffs.
With a seasoned team in place, the Indians and veteran Ruben Eargle expect even more this time around.
“We’re finally playing with a veteran group,” said Eargle, who has been the head man since the program debuted in 1991. “Every player on the roster has started at one time or another. Our pitching and defense is solid and I expect the hitting to be strong.”
Senior shortstop Jenna Williams (.385, 18 RBI), senior pitcher-first baseman Gabby Keisler (.393, 23 RBI), senior pitcher-outfielder Lyndie Dorgan (.363, 20 RBI), junior Emily Jones outfielder-first baseman (.293, 16 RBI), junior catcher Gibson Westfall (.247, 9 RBI), junior outfielder Kate Lee (.329, 9 RBI) and sophomore third baseman Alicia Dorgan (.262, 13 RBI) for the core of the lineup.
Juniors Nikki Hopkins and Caitlyn Sheppard are also in the mix. Hopkins missed the 2013 season with an injury. Sheppard was a three-year starter (2010-12).
Keisler and Lyndie Dorgan will shared the pitching load once more. Keisler is committed to Erskine, while Dorgan is committed to USC-Aiken.
The major concern this season is lack of depth. Gilbert starts the season with just 10 players on the varsity roster.
The Indians went 20-12 a year ago and earned the Region 5 top seed with a tie-breaking win over Midland Valley after the team split during the conference campaign and finished with identical 9-1 region marks. The tribe then went on to claim the District 5 championship and went 1-2 in the Lower State championship tournament.
Gilbert opens the season with a March 11 road date against first-year River Bluff.