Chapin welcomes the return of six starters off a team that went 26-6, won region and district softball playoff titles for the second year in a row and was denied a chance to reach the championship series for the second year in a row.
“We have a lot of experience and the girls are very hungry to go all the way now,” said third-year coach Jason Jolley. “We had a great season (in 2010), but the goal was to win a state championship so ultimately it was a disappointing one.”
The Eagles will no longer have to deal with two-time defending champion J.L, Mann, which has moved up to Class 4A this season. But having the Patriots out of the picture may not necessarily clear the way for Chapin. After all, the program now finds itself realigned to the Lower State and in the middle of a tough Region 5 lineup that includes the likes of Brookland-Cayce, Airport and Midland Valley.
“It’s going to be intense every night in this region,” said Jolley.
The returning stars include all-state pick Taylor Morgan, all-region selections Sam Boland, Whitley Martin and Savannah Frick, plus Addy Schelble and Natalie Harper.
Morgan will handle the bulk of the key pitching assignments now that Brittany Barr has graduated. She will play at shortstop when not in the circle. Third baseman Boland and catcher Martin are, like Taylor, two-time all-region players. Frick is back at second base. The versatile Schelble will see time in center field, at first base or behind the plate. Harper is back in the outfield.
Newcomers to watch include sophomore Ashley Bonnette (SS), eighth-grader pitching prospect Abby Malcom and seventh-graders Lindsay Harris (1B) and Brook Burns (P).
The Eagles open regular season play on March 7 at home against Newberry before kicking off the Region 5 campaign on March 8 at Brookland-Cayce.