Graduation is something that high school coaches can't avoid. It comes around every spring.
The local softball coaches all know that and would like to keep their graduating seniors around for just a little while longer.
But those graduating seniors have other ideas. They want to go on to college and play some intercollegiate softball. And many of them do.
It would probably figure that the team that advanced the farthest would be the one hit the hardest with graduation. And it was.
North Penn, which reached the PIAA Class AAAA semifinals before losing to Neshaminy 3-2 last spring, had five starters graduate. That would seem to strip the Maidens down to the bare essentials on the field.
But that would be incorrect. Coach Rick Torresani, who has won 280 games in his 14-year career with the Maidens, has a strong nucleus of experienced players coming back for the 2014 season — six to be exact — along with several players who got some playing time last season.
On the other end of that spectrum is Christopher Dock. The Pioneers, who won the District One AA title last year, graduated no one.
Wissahickon has a new coach on he bench this season. Crystalrae States, a Pennridge graduate who coached two years at Abington Friends, takes over for John Bilella this year.
Of course, every coach expects to be able to put a competitive team on the field. And the nine teams in The Reporter coverage area are no exceptions.
Central Bucks West
Head Coach: Jim Taylor
Last Season: 1-19 (0-14 Suburban One League Continental Conference)
Key Losses: Gina Schnecker
Key Returners: Amanda Wolfgang (Sr., OF), Angelina Refice (Sr., OF), Jessica D'Agostino (Sr., 3B), Rebecca Cassel (So., C)
Outlook: Five position players return from a team that struggled last season. While they have that experience, none of the pitchers has ever pitched a varsity game. The team will be better but will have to be lucky as well as good to get more wins.
Head Coach: Wayne Benner
,b>Last Season: 14-7 (9-3 Bicentennial Athletic League), District 1-AA champion, overall lost to Pen Argyl in PIAA AA first round.
Key Losses: None.
Key Returners: Sarah Ryder (Sr., INF), Lauren Weidler (Jr., P), Emma Lewis (Jr., 1B), Emily Gordon (Jr., C)
Others to Watch: Cassidy Jagiela (Jr., OF), Ella Barlick (So., 2B)
Strengths: No losses to graduation and post-season experience
Outlook: With a small roster, there is a need to stay injury-free. We look to defend the District One AA championship.
Head Coach: Charlie Ball
Assistant Coach: John Golden
Last Season: 6-13 (5-9 league)
Key Loss: Krista Goepfrich
Key Returners: Sarah Carey, Anna Gillespie, Jess Behr, Jess Campbell, Bella Urie, Erin Barras
Others to Watch: Alyssa Myers, Christina Shrager, Gab Salamone, Tara Sheahan
Strength: Pitching and speed
Outlook: This should be a competitive team. A lot will depend on the young players filling some key positions.
Head Coach: Paul Suder
Last Season: 14-7 (9-3 Philadelphia Catholic League)
Key Losses: Kate Beck
Key Returners: Alicia Kradzinski (1B), Bridey Harkins (2B), Amanda Bradley (SS), Alyssa Messina (3B), Kristin Szczepaniak (LF), Greta Sheridan (CF), Jenna Gibbons (RF), Danielle Eckroth (P), Ashley Seal (P)
Others to Watch: Kaelyn Motts (C), Alessandra Messina (C)
Strength: Lots of experience
Outlook: Looking for good things from a senior-led team
Head Coach: Cathy Miller
Assistant Coaches: Candace Clark, Niki Brislin
Last Season: 16-6 (14-4 PAC-10) lost to Central Bucks East in District 1-AAAA second round
Key Losses: Jordyn Prutzer, Katie Civitello, Rachel Picozzi, Allie Parente
Key Returners: Emily Harris (Sr., C), Julie Primavera (Sr., LF), Sarah Rambo (Sr., 3B), Amanda Kulp (Jr., SS), Rachel Triantafilou (Jr., Utility)
Others to watch: Natalie Damato (So., OF), Dani Duda (So., OF), Paulina Lowery (So., 2B), Emily Stauffer (So., P)
Outlook: We expect to be competitive again this season. We have a solid core of returning players. The sophomores are a talented group who had some varsity playing time last season. Key will be to play solid defense to support our young pitching staff.
Coach: Rick Torresani
Assistant Coaches: Shannon McCracken, Beth Everest
Last Season: 18-10, (7-7 SOL Continental), fourth place District 1-AAAA, lost to Neshaminy in PIAA AAAA semifinals.
Key Losses: Michelle Holweger (Lock Haven), Melissa Fasick, Hannah Sheehan, Alexa Gable, Jen Holcavage, Morgan Wiernusz
Key Returners: Erin Maher (Sr., SS), Vicky Tumasz (Sr., 1B), Meghan Curley (Sr., 3B), Alyssa Shoulberg (Sr., RF), Jackie Bilotti (Jr., P), Becky Christoffers (Jr., C)
Others to Watch: Lauren Ostopowicz (Sr., OF, 2B), Danya Briefer (Sr. INF), Hannah Uhler (Jr., LF), Nicole Yanni (Jr., INF), Alexa Sinn (So., CF), Celeste Rosato (1B, OF)
Strengths: Experience in key positions, experience in the District One and PIAA playoffs
Outlook: "No excuses'
Head Coach: Paul Koehler
Assistant Coaches: LeeAnn Kramer, Tyler Penhallow, Brittany Sparling
Last Season: 14-9 (8-6 SOL Continental), lost to North Penn in District 1-AAAA quarterfinals
Key Losses: Brooke Labs (Marywood), Paige DeCew (West Chester)
Key Returners: Haley Taylor (Sr., SS), Emily Mayhew (Sr., LF), Bridget Casey (Sr., CF), Alison Horne (Sr., RF), Morgan Labs (Jr., 1B)
Others to Watch: Briana Gery (So., 2B), Liv Campbell (So., C)
Strengths: Our outfield should be very strong. Middle infield and first base should be solid defensively. The biggest question mark will be pitching. We will start untested pitchers from last year's JV team.
Outlook: Competing in this division is always a tough challenge. We hope to compete. We hope to reach district playoffs again.
Head Coach: Stephanie Rummel
Assistant Coaches: Philip Rummel, Malli Shelly
Last Season: 12-9 (7-7 SOL Continental), lost to Upper Darby in District 1-AAAA first round
Key Losses: Nikki Canfield, Sarah Derstine, Meg Roynan, Salina Allebach
Key Returners: Paige Shelly, Erelle Sowers, Haley Delany, Amanda Brush
Others to Watch: Morgan Yoder, Heather Millagin, Dayna Shelly, Angie Carty
Strengths: Our offense is going to be a powerful aspect of our game. Our defense is expected to keep us in tight games as well as bring consistency.
Outlook: Looking for a great season with a run for a playoff berth
Head Coach: Crystalrae States
Last Season: 10-9 (8-6 SOL American)
Key Losses: Ashley Anderson, Alex Comonitski, Meredith Byrne, Kelli Gillman, Emma Goodrich
Key Returners: Emily Kaissi (Sr., OF), Brittany Gelman (Jr., OF), Donna Intintolo (Jr., 3B)
Others to Watch: Michela Coleman (Fr., C), Sabrina Marinucci (So., P)
Strengths: We are comprised of young, athletic talent. We should be able to run on teams and play a good short game.
Outlook: This team is very capable of being a contender for playoffs this year as long as they can be consistent. This season is going to be about team. They are really going to have to rally around each other to be successful.