Riverside-Brookfield softball coaches John Vermillion and Dan Hull know how to flip-flop a lineup, now the Bulldogs’ terrific tandem of skippers will flip-flop roles this spring.

After 12 successful seasons as the varsity head coach, Hull is stepping down to coach the sophomore squad with Vermillion taking over as the Bulldogs’ new varsity coach. The veteran coaches share a respect for each other and both carry a proven record of success. During his eight years coaching the RB sophomores, Vermillion’s clubs amassed a scintillating 117-22 overall record, including a 79-6 Metro Suburban Conference mark and seven league titles.

“I’d like to thank the [RB] school board and athletic department for this coaching opportunity,” Vermillion said. “I’m excited about coaching these girls, and I think we can have a very good season.”

Although the Bulldogs, who went 32-5 last year and were sectional finalist, lost several key players to graduation – most notably all-state shortstop Jessie Hutchens (.536, 15 HR, 74 RBIs) – they maintain an excellent mix of returning varsity players and talented newcomers.

Junior third baseman Kiley Rusen, who led the Bulldogs with 70 hits along with a .500 batting average, seven home runs and 36 RBIs, appears poised for another huge campaign. Kylie O’Connell (13-2 last season) also returns as the Bulldogs’ ace pitcher.

Outfielders Becky Mantel and Molly Ely, second baseman Maggie Zeleny, catcher Emily Hastings and utility player Cassie Cook are other key returners.

Eight new players in shortstop Kelly Ely, infielder Megan Frey, first baseman Ashley Haugh, outfielder Tierney Duffy, pitcher/infielder Meghan Orgler, pitcher Rachel Denneny, infielder Eleanore Waszak and utility player Erin James promise an infusion of versatile talent. Vermilion led this group to a 19-2 record last year.

“I think it helps that I’ve already coached most of these girls,” Vermillion said. “The players know what to expect and everybody will have a role. Great pitching and defense will be keys to our success, but I think we can be an outstanding hitting team as well.”

Vermillion envisions a lineup with Duffy and Rusen toward the top followed by a solid middle of the order featuring Hastings, Mantel and Haugh.

“I’m a short-game, percentage-type coach,” he said. “It’s a lot easier to score from second than first, and it’s even easier to score from third than second.”

Riverside-Brookfield should battle newcomer Glenbard South and Elmwood Park for the conference championship.

The Bulldogs begin their season on Thursday at Westmont (4:30 p.m.).