Seven returning letter winners will lead the Cougars to the diamond this year, when the Mabel-Canton softball team takes the field.

Team Captain Bailey Hanson is the only returning letter winner representing the senior class. She will be joined by juniors Kristina Mengis (also a team captain) and Danielle Paul. Also returning are sophomores Lydia Geving, an SEC All-Conference player last season (and a team captain), Abby Hanson, Kourtney Coyle and Chelcie Busch.

Hanson hit .400 last season, while Geving averaged .313.

Mengis will be a starting pitcher this year. Bailey Hanson can be found at first base. Abby Hanson is playing short stop. Geving will be starting catcher and Coyle is a starting outfielder.

Busch, Paul, freshman Hannah Nolte, junior Courtney Smith, freshman Ashlyn Dahl, freshman Sara Vettleson-Trutza and freshman Danielle Graves are working to fill in as starters at second, third, and the other two outfield positions, Coach Kati Tweeten said. Currently, Busch and Smith are slated as outfielders, while Paul, Nolte, Dahl, Vettleson-Trutza and Graves are listed as infielders. The varsity roster also lists sophomore May Panklad as an outfielder and freshman Taylor Adkins as an infielder.

"Even though we are a young team (one senior, three juniors, five sophomores and five freshmen) we have almost all of our starters back from last year," Tweeten said.

"So experience and good leadership are our strengths. Our weaknesses are definitely offense and speed," she added.

"I am hoping that we will be in the middle of the conference this year," Tweten shared. "Our goal every season is to improve, so we want to improve not only our record but our fielding and batting averages. "

Tweeten said local favorites this year will be Houston and Spring Grove/Caledonia. "They both return a lot of great players from last season, so I would anticipate that they would be fighting for the conference championship," she said. "As for the section, again I would assume Houston would be at the top with Lewiston-Altura. Lewiston returns a great line up and will be a tough team to play."

Tweeten is in her fourth year at the helm. She's aided by Assistant Coach Susie Munroe, who is back for her second year.

"I am optimistic for the season, I think we can defiantly improve upon last year's record of 1-12," Tweeten said.