The players and coaching staff of the Lyons Township softball team are extremely optimistic about their upcoming season.

“We are very excited and confident that we are going to have a good season,” LT coach Dawn Schabacker said. “We have a lot of hard working players that are willing to work together for the common goal of a successful season.

“I think we can do well. Last year we finished tied for second [in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference] so we have a chance to do very well. Our conference is always tough.”

The Lions return several key players from last year’s 12-16-2 squad, which posted an impressive 8-4 record in conference. Lyons played a very tough schedule last season with 12 of its games coming against regional championship teams. Regional host Mother McAuley ended LT’s 2009 campaign with a 4-2 victory in a Class 4A regional final.

Although LT lost key players Bridget Anselmo and Gina Delisi to graduation, four-year varsity player/all-conference shortstop Caryn Connors will provide ample leadership and talent. Connors has committed to play college softball at Bucknell. Junior Alyssa Smith, who can play multiple positions, also returns.

Senior catcher/outfielder Kelly Cochrane, junior catcher/outfielder Casey Witt, junior third baseman Kim Schrepfer, and junior pitcher/infielder Karen Caithamer give the Lions a nice mix of experience, depth and versatility. Promising sophomores Skye Riddle and Alyssa Koziol are also expected to make an impact on the varsity level.

Other players on the LT roster include: Cara Bowton, Kristen Brandt, Ronnie Christopher, Kelsie Conway, Sarah Hanlon, Brooke Jamrozik, Katie Morgan, Michelle Munoz and Kiley Polerecky. Assistant coach Lorie Lowey also assumes an important bench role for the Lions.

“I see our talent, aggressiveness and the willingness to work hard in practice as team strengths,” Schabacker said. “We also want to be unpredictable at the bat, including small ball and power.”

Schabacker cited an improved defense and team batting average as top priorities for the Lions’ development.

Perennial power Oak Park is the preseason favorite in conference, but LT did beat the Huskies 4-2 last season. The Lions should be in the thick of the conference race this spring.

“We are looking forward to doing well in conference and bringing home a regional championship,” Schabacker said. “We also want to get to the sectional championship and see where we can go from there.”