The Destin Marlins are looking to connect when they take the field next week against the Baker Gators.
"We're going to hit the ball a lot more this season," said Destin Middle School softball coach Warren Whitaker. "I'm pretty positive about that."
The Marlins square off at 4 p.m. Wednesday against Baker in their season opener at home.
"The dedication of their work ethic" is the strength of this team, Whitaker said.
Out of the 18 girls on the roster, about 15 played for Coach Whitaker last year.
"We only lost two players and we picked up a transfer from South Walton," he said.
The transfer from neighboring South Walton is eighth grader Mollie Seeling.
Seeling will be sharing in the pitching duties along with eighth grader Faith Ford.
"Both are very strong and mature on the mound," Whitaker said. "You've got to be mentally mature to be able to pitch through" certain situations, he said. "And they've got it."
In addition to being able to handle adversity on the mound, "they've got a wide repertoire of pitches.”
Madison Henry, who is the Marlins primary catcher, may also get some time in the pitching circle.
"We've been working with Marlee Greer behind the plate some, to give Madison some relief," Whitaker said.
However, all placements on the field are not yet set in stone.
"We'll be finalizing positions this week," Whitaker said.
Nevertheless, some of the Marlins are already rising to the top.
Leading out on the playing field are Ford, Henry and Seeling as well as Gabby Nix and Caroline Porter.
"They are the core," Whitaker said. "They know what has to be done and they set the tempo at practice."
"Gabby has been showing up at the plate," Whitaker said, noting that he will use her some as a pinch hitter. As for Porter she has been working in right field and as a backup to first base.
"Our defense is looking about the same as last year," he said.
The Marlins went 6-2 last year and finished third in the county.
As for the outlook this year, "We'll play to the best of our ability and the rest will be in God's hands," Whitaker said.
ON THE SCHEDULE:
April 10 - Baker
April 22 - at Meigs
April 24 - St. Mary's
April 29 - Ruckel
May 1 - Shoal River
May 6 - Bruner
May 8 - at Lewis
May 13 - at Davidson
May 15 - at Pryor
(All games begin at 4 p.m.)
ON THE TEAM:
Grace Ann Clark