The Hawkettes lost by the mercy rule in their season opener

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Hanover softball head coach Kerry Durika wasn't going to let one rough game change his outlook on the 2015-16 season.

The Hawkettes dropped their season-opener, 15-1, to Newport in five innings on Thursday. While losing by the mercy rule wasn't how Durika wanted to start the season, he said he's still confident Hanover can have a successful campaign.

"I believe we can go to districts if we compete and win the games we're supposed to," Durika said. "In this game, there wasn't an earned run (against Hanover) in the first or second innings. We cut down on our mistakes, make better throws, move more comfortably, we will be competitive and beat the teams we should beat."

Coming off a 4-16 season, the Hawkettes have just 11 girls in the program and only two (shortstop Lexi Daley, left fielder Grayson Capps) playing the same position as last season. So what makes Durika confident his team can reach the District 3 playoffs?

"We have to have a goal to shoot for," Durika said. "We have to be able to strive to get better and have a ring to grab."

Durika doesn't expect improvement to come easily. Hanover has multiple freshmen in its lineup and that inexperience showed on Thursday, as the Hawkettes made numerous throwing errors and struggled to generate much offense against the Buffaloes.

According to Durika, the biggest obstacle the Hawkettes have to overcome is adjusting to the speed of the game at the varsity level.

"There's a learning curve for everybody whether its a new position or the fact that we have freshman running all over the place," Durika said. "I have a hard time coaching game speed. This is a game speed they're getting used to and things are breaking down. It's not habitual yet."

Durika said he's relying on his few returning players to act as coaches on the field for the Hawkettes. One of these players in his daughter, senior pitcher Sara Durika.

"The things that my dad can't see on the field, I try to coach the team through that," Sara Durika said. "I don't want to come off as too strong, but at the same time its good (for the team) to have someone who can take charge."

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