The formula for success for the Lyons Township softball team this season could be as simple as six plus one. That’s the number of returning starters plus highly touted freshman pitcher Ashley Koziol that veteran coach Dawn Schabacker will rely on to lead the Lions this spring.

The Lions’ six returning starters offer a nice balance of leadership and ability featuring three seniors and three juniors. Senior Alyssa Smith, who will play for the University of Toledo next year, is an excellent centerfielder who can play multiple positions. Fellow seniors Karen Caithamer (shortstop) and Casey Witt (catcher/outfielder) also return after excellent junior campaigns in 2010. Catcher Skye Riddle, infielder/outfielder Lauren Huebner and pitcher Alyssa Koziol also return as a trio of skilled juniors for Schabacker.

Alyssa Koziol will team up with her younger sister, Ashley, to comprise the top end of the Lions’ pitching rotation. Caithamer and Ronnie Christopher also could see action in the pitcher’s circle.

Other members of the varsity include: Leyla Aiyash, Tory Bugaieski, Kelsie Conway, Chelsea Grady, Brooke Jamrozik, Nicole Magats, Marisa Pater and Allison Skala.

“We’re looking to be competitive in every game,” Schabacker said. “We play a very tough schedule starting out with Riverside-Brookfield as our season opener. We also have a very challenging conference schedule. Our goals are to win conference, win regionals and make it as far into the state playoffs as we possibly can.”

It won’t be easy winning the West Suburban (Silver) Conference considering Glenbard West, Downers Grove North, York and Oak Park will all field solid teams, but the Lions have as good a shot as anybody at the league title. Lyons also faces a very difficult nonconference schedule with games against Stagg, Wheaton North, WW South, Trinity, Morton and RB.

“I think we will be very competitive this season,” Schabacker said. “Hopefully we will be a tough team to contend with when the postseason comes around.”

With over 20 years experience as the Lions’ head coach, Schabacker is excited about the potential of this year’s group of 16 varsity players. Veteran assistant coach Lorie Lowey and player assistant coach Candace Kramer will also look to guide the Lions.

Lyons finished 19-14 last season, winning the St. Charles Tournament and a regional championship via a 5-0 victory over Downers Grove South.

The Lions host RB on Saturday, April 2 (1:30 p.m.) in a doubleheader to open their season.