Solanco's softball team will look different than originally planned, but the Mules' lofty expectations never change.
"The goal for the team is always the same," coach Brett Miller said. "Win the game. Players can have individual goals but the team's goal is to win the game. If you put enough of those wins together people start handing you hardware."
Senior Hanna Phillips, Solanco's ace pitcher the last three seasons, is recovering from an injury. "Hanna is on the mend," Miller said. "We will see how long it takes and see if she can return as the season progresses. The other pitchers need to step up."
Miller has complete confidence they will do so. Sierra Dean, the Mules' starting third baseman last year, will see action in the circle. Starting outfielder Skyla Townsley can also pitch.
"Sierra is more than capable," Miller said. "Skyla also has the ability to throw."
Dean and Townsley will help lead Solanco along with senior second baseman Kara McClune.
Jade Eshelman returns at catcher after an outstanding freshman campaign.
Senior Desiree DeHaven could contribute at first base and/or in the outfield. Senior Noelle Schneider will see action in the outfield. Senior utility player Kelsey Sheets brings versatility. Junior Mackenzie Britigan is competing for time in the outfield and could contribute as a courtesy runner.
Freshman shortstop Rebecca Foulk and classmate Kendal Jansen, an outfielder, are also slated to see varsity action.
Other freshmen and sophomores contending for varsity playing time. Sophomore Kirsten O'Connell and freshman Marlee Haupt will likely pitch on the JV squad and could earn varsity innings.
"We have a strong enough nucleus to have a productive season," Miller said. "We need to play solid defense."
Last season, Solanco won a school record 24 games and lost only three times. The Mules captured their 18th section title and earned Lancaster-Lebanon League Tournament co-champion honors with Donegal when the title game was canceled because of rain. Solanco finished third in the district tournament and lost 6-4 loss to eventual state champion Lampeter-Strasburg in the PIAA semifinals.
There are 23 players in the high school program. "It's a good group," Miller said. "They all have the talent and ability. They have to try their best, then do better. We've been doing that around here for a long time."
Solanco starts the season at home vs. Pequea Valley Friday, March 22, at 4:15 p.m. The Mules host Elizabethtown Wednesday, March 27.