The women’s softball team will open up the spring season ranked 15th, where they will look to continue their dominance in the MCC and anticipate strong post-season play. The Pilots have won the regular season MCC title the last two out of three years and are coming off of their deepest run in the NAIA tournament in the school’s history. One of the main focuses this coming spring will be adjusting to the amount of players and experience lost from last season. The Pilots are only returning nine players after losing seven from last year’s roster. “We need a completely different look this year,” said Coach Welsh. “We only return nine players from last year's team. So the plan is to get this group to gel together and understand what we need to do physically and mentally this spring to get back to NAIA Nationals and make a run for the title.” Nevertheless, the Pilots will return several strong players and will look to them for experience and leadership. Senior Katie Boocher was an NAIA All-American last spring as she set numerous Bethel records at the plate. Some of her single season records include batting average, hits, runs batted in, home runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and total bases. Junior Holly Weaver will also return to the lineup after having a successful season as well and being named a second team NAIA All-American. Weaver had 58 stolen bases and scored 64 runs to lead the Pilots during the 2010 season. Senior Kaitlyn Dubois returns as a very valuable asset as well. Dubois struggled with a hand injury during the last part of the 2010 season but was able to recover and come up with two game-winning home runs in the NAIA tournament. Senior Emily Lampkin will look to bring guidance to this young team as well. Lampkin brings tremendous infield experience and led the team last year in the hit by pitch category with a whopping 23. Boocher, Weaver, Dubois, and Lampkin will all be captains on the upcoming 2011 season. Overall, Coach Welsh is satisfied with their preseason 15th ranking and feels that it is nice to get some national recognition despite losing so many key players from last year. Nevertheless, she believes that the team has their eyes fixed on letting the conference and NAIA know that this will not be a rebuilding year with the young team they have. “I am really excited to show the MCC and the NAIA that we are not rebuilding and that this year's team is incredibly talented, athletic, and determined,” said Coach Welsh. “I am confident we will not skip a beat and expect great things from this year's group.” So far it appears that the team’s focus this off-season has been very positive and full of determined hard work. “This team is so focused and so determined,” said Coach Welsh. “We've been having really tough conditioning practices lately and they have been working extremely hard.” It is crucial that the team is prepared and ready for action because they will be tested early when they travel to Mobile, Alabama. There, they will see teams such as 3rd ranked William Carey University, and 25th ranked University of Mobile.