The Staples softball team graduated a class of nine players from last season's 10-11 squad. However, that doesn't dissuade this group from the annual goal -- reaching the state tournament.
"(Making the state tournament) is a big thing of ours," Staples' third-year coach Sara Holland said. "That's our goal. We want to be consistent and beat the teams we should, and hopefully challenging the teams that are going to be tough."
The Wreckers graduated pitcher/shortstop Nikki Bukovsky, Maggie Mills and Shannon Conners.
Captaining the team this year will be first baseman Katherine Friend, catcher Emma Moscovitz and outfielder Chrissy McCarthy.
"They have experience on the field; all returning varsity starters," Holland said. "They are going to help our underclassmen step up and play."
Holland plans on using a rotation of three pitchers this season -- senior Katie Burke, Emily Lustbader and freshman Jillian Burke. All will attempt to fill the void left by Bukovsky, a first team All-FCIAC performer last year.
"They each are a little different," Holland said. "Some have a little more movement or speed. It's going to be based on who we play and the conditions."
Maya Mandell will play third base and Lustbader will be at second when not pitching. Sophomore Gabby Perry will play short. The other two outfield spots are up for grabs.
"(Perry) is smart and has a ton of range," Holland said. "She has a ton of potential; I'm excited to see what she can do this year."
The Wreckers open their season April 10 at New Fairfield. Staples' home opener will be April 15 at Wakeman Field against Bassick. The Wreckers face three of the FCIAC favorites -- Stamford, Darien and St. Joseph -- in a five day span in early May.
Staples, which is an annual fixture in the state tournament, hasn't won a postseason game since 2009. The Wreckers fell to Stamford in the first round a year ago. Holland hopes the developing chemistry will help snap the drought.
"I like the way the team has kind of jelled, from the senior group to the girls coming in," Holland said. "It's going to be a fun year for the team to come together."