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When it comes to the Cuyahoga Falls softball team, there are several questions that need to be answered during the spring.
Fortunately for 19th-year head coach Kim Applegarth, chemistry is not one of them.
"They're working hard," she said. "They have a positive attitude and they are encouraging each other. They will root for everyone so the team gets better."
Applegarth hopes that enthusiasm leads the Lady Black Tigers to a few more wins than the previous year.
Falls finished 8-18 overall after falling to Brunswick 6-3 in a Division I sectional title game.
The Lady Black Tigers also finished 2-12 in the Suburban League National Conference. Wadsworth won the National Conference title in 2016.
The good news is Falls has a number of versatile players. The bad news is Applegarth will be forced to move players out of their comfort zones.
"We're young and inexperienced at certain positions," she said. "We're asking kids to play different positions they haven't played."
The Lady Black Tigers also lost seven key seniors. Leading the way was four-year starting shortstop Cailie Collins.
Also graduating were left-handed pitcher Kristy Fryberger, right fielder Kate Lukosavich, center fielder Allie Burns, catcher/second baseman Briann Hamric and utility players Miranda Morton and Kaylee Genthner.
Although Falls lost a four-year letter winner, it will have a four-year letter winner back in the mix.
Her name is Brianna Andexler, a senior who is expected to see time at shortstop and several other positions, according to Applegarth.
"Brianna can play any position on the field except pitcher," Applegarth said. "She was our leadoff hitter last year. She will be our leadoff hitter this year."
Another key returnee is senior Kyia Saxon, who will move from first base to center field. Applegarth said Saxon will bat third.
Senior Courtney Hasenstab plans to remain at her position from last year. She is expected to start at second base for the second consecutive year and Applegarth said she will bat second.
Other senior players include Hailey Miles (right-handed pitcher and first baseman), Taylor Jalm (catcher and outfielder) and Makayla Deyling (outfielder).
Two juniors got some quality innings last season. They are Anna Steiner (catcher and third base) and Tori Rogers (left-handed pitcher, first base and outfield).
The other junior players are Jordan Johnson (first baseman and designated player) and Alex Eves (first base and designated player).
The lone returning sophomore is Janella Farmer, who is expected to see time behind the plate, in the outfield and at third base.
Rounding out the squad are sophomores Cynthia Stanfield (right-handed pitcher and third base), Shelby Cheatwood (utility) and Anna Bobbitt (second base).
Applegarth's varsity assistant coach is Jimmy Jones. The junior varsity coaches are former Lady Black Tiger standouts Alesha Jones and Sam Troxell.
If you're expecting Falls to hit a lot of balls out of the ballpark, don't press your luck. The Lady Black Tigers are going to do everything to keep opposing defenses guessing.
"We're going to play small ball and take advantage of the opportunities," Applegarth said. "Our team speed is not blazing, but we're going to be aggressive on the base paths."
Falls will face a number of formidable opponents during the spring. Most of those formidable opponents are the Lady Black Tigers' main rivals.
"The league is very strong," Applegarth said. "Brecksville is going to be strong and North Royalton, Hudson and Stow will be strong. Nordonia and Brecksville are the favorites.
"It will be a work in progress. They're going to learn under fire. They have been receptive in practice. We're hoping to compete in every game and give it our all."
Falls is scheduled to make its season debut at Harrington Park against Brecksville-Broadview Heights March 29.
The Lady Black Tigers are set to visit National Conference foe Wadsworth March 30. First pitch both days is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.