Matoaca High School softball has long been a proud program, but the team experienced a dip last season, won just six games and qualified...

Matoaca High School softball has long been a proud program, but the team experienced a dip last season, won just six games and qualified for the postseason as the No. 8 seed, falling to top-ranked Atlee.

“We are an older team, but we have some players in new positions this year,” coach Scott Driskill said.

Gone is pitcher Katie Higgins, who had a standout career. Senior Paige Berberette will step into the circle as the Warriors’ primary pitcher.

Sophomore Rylee Franklin and freshman Brianna Branch are also expected to throw. Sophomore Hailey Hengle will finish out the battery at catcher.

Riley Hunt will lead the offense and play first base. Last year, she stayed hot all year long, finishing with a .440 batting average. She is one of the top offensive performers in the state. Hunt is backed up by three other seniors who can hit in third baseman Myla Lundie, shortstop Lexie Costello and utility player Cassidy Maitland, who can play at least six positions.

When Hengle doesn’t catch, she’ll roam the outfield with Mackenzie Vairo, another senior who is one of the team’s top defenders. 

Two other players will serve as Swiss Army knives of sorts for Driskill: Taylor Cremonese and Sam Denney, a pair of juniors who can play nearly any position and provide good offensive potential.

Last season, the offense, and at times the defense, were a bugaboos for the Warriors, but they have been working hard at their craft, and Driskill expects improvements.

“Offensive stats need to improve from last year,” he said. “We need to push runs across when runners are in scoring position. We have improved, and it should show at the plate. We need to get off the field when we have two outs and finish games.” Nonetheless, he is hopeful. “We should have improvement across the board,” he said.

Starting with wins over James River and Highland Springs, Matoaca then fell to Clover Hill. Matoaca will take on Midlothian this week before facing Petersburg for their next contest March 26.