When the Davis High softball team takes the field for its season opener on Tuesday at McClatchy, fans will see familiar faces, but might have a nagging feeling that something is different.
That’s because the 2014 Blue Devils return five starters from a team that reached the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs last year, however, all but one of them will be playing a new position.
In fact, five DHS players will be starting at new spots come Tuesday at 4 p.m.
With so much shuffling, the new-look Devils will turn to seniors Kaitlyn Lagattuta, Ashley Dufresne, Madi Yule and Maddie Asta for leadership.
Lagattuta, who will play at Stanford next year, is the shortstop and one of the team’s go-to pitchers, where Dufresne is set to be her battery-mate. Yule (first base) and Asta (third) will handle the corners.
After that, Davis will rely on some young but promising players to fill supporting roles, including Dufresne’s younger sister Audrey, who could be the locals’ opening-day starting pitcher. Audrey Dufresne also plays first and third base.
Other sparks could come from Blue Devil sophomore Faith Harlan, a second baseman who also can play outfield, and left fielder Catherine Slabaugh, another 10th-grader.
After taking second place in the Delta Valley Conference with an 8-2 league record last season, DHS was bounced in a section tournament out-bracket game. Devil coach Art Guerra hopes to go even deeper into the 2014 playoffs, but knows there’s work to be done.
“We are always looking to win the section, and of course the league as well,” he said.“We need to work on our cohesiveness as a unit. Even though we will be returning some starters from last year, they are now at different positions.”
Even with players in new spots on the field, the coach thinks his Davis squad will come through in the most important areas of the game.
“It’s great that we have good hitting and defense, because those are things that are very important for teams, and a lot of teams struggle with that,” Guerra explained.
One thing slowing the Blue Devils’ early progress has been the recent rain, which has cut down on practice time. Guerra said DHS will use the preseason to prepare for DVC play especially offensively, where the Devils “will be looking to get in lots of at-bats.”
Once conference play begins, Davis will have to be clicking as the competition heats up from there through the section playoffs.
“Franklin is always a strong team, as is Elk Grove,” Guerra said of the Delta Valley Conference. “Also, in the section, Vintage won the finals last year and I know they bring back a lot of key players this year.”
Notes: After McClatchy, the Blue Devils are at Rocklin on Wednesday (4 p.m.) before hosting a tournament in Davis on Friday and Saturday. … Junior Danielle Styers (center) and senior Olivia Schmidt (right) are expected to start in the outfield, while junior Rachel Mobley will give the Devils innings in the circle.