A young but expe­ri­enced softball team will start the spring season with 12 games in Florida over spring break before beginning G-MAC play on March 24.

“We’re still young, because we’re mostly sopho­mores and freshmen, but we’re still fairly expe­ri­enced because a lot of the sopho­mores got playing time last year,” head coach Joe Abraham said. “Even though we’re young, inex­pe­rience is not an issue for our team. We fully expect to go out and have a great season.”

The team gained nine freshmen this season, while only three seniors grad­uated at the end of last season, including Bekah Kastning ’17, the only player in school history to earn NCAA Division II all-region acco­lades twice in her career.

The Chargers’ pitching staff and six addi­tional starters will return from last year, including senior third baseman Kelsey Gockman, junior out­fielder Katie Kish, junior second baseman Amanda Marra, sophomore pitcher Dana Wei­dinger, sophomore shortstop Sam Catron, and sophomore catcher Sydney San Juan, who received all-con­ference acco­lades last season.

“We’re pretty close as a team to begin with because we have a lot of returning players,” Wei­dinger said. “I feel like the freshmen fit in so well with the rest of our team, and we have a couple new big bats on the team, which is awesome.”

The team fin­ished last year 25 – 23 in the GLIAC, and will compete against some familiar oppo­nents and new teams in the G-MAC. Abraham said mental focus will be espe­cially important this season.

“We need to make sure that we’re not having mental let­downs on any par­ticular days,” he said. “When you know you’re going to play a Grand Valley or a Wayne State or a Saginaw, you know you’re in for two very dif­ficult games, so because the G-MAC is not as strong as the GLIAC, it could be easy for a team pre­dicted near the top to have a mental letdown here or there. We have to guard against that by taking everyone seri­ously.”

Gockman said the Florida games over break will help the team prepare for the con­ference season.

“We def­i­nitely think we can be a very dom­inant team,” Gockman said.

Abraham said the team needs to get the season off to a strong start in Florida, espe­cially since the team will likely have freshmen making sig­nif­icant con­tri­bu­tions to the team at the pitching and catching posi­tions.

“These games in Florida count, so we’re looking to win games,” Abraham said. “The working has been going on since last fall. These aren’t scrim­mages or for easing our way into the season. This counts. You’re always looking to work on things, but we’re looking to win.”