By BRIAN CUNNIFF
A new alignment awaits the area’s high school softball teams that compete in the Cape-Atlantic League as a new season embarks.
Cape May Tech, Lower Cape May, Middle Township and Wildwood Catholic will all play in the CAL United Conference, along with Bridgeton, Buena and Pleasantville.
Mark Krause is the area’s one new head coach, taking over at Wildwood Catholic.
Most of the area teams are scheduled to begin their seasons Friday.
The following is a look at each of the area’s high school softball teams:
CAPE MAY TECH
Cape May Tech enters the new season with eight returning players from last year’s 3-14 team.
The returnees include seniors Adelia Ogden (SS/3B), Alexis Fox (OF), Sophia Cirino (OF) and Bella Williams (UT), juniors Devin Muir (C) and Logan Trimarco (OF) and sophomores Johanna Longstreet (P/INF) and Kayleigh Rhodes (INF).
Newcomers expected to see significant playing time include junior Hanna Norcross (P/INF) and freshmen Sophia Nemeth (SS/3B) and Amanda Daino (OF).
Tech is led by second-year head coach Cortney Walters. She’s assisted by Jessia Versage.
The Lady Hawks open the season Friday at home against Pleasantville.
LOWER CAPE MAY
Lower Cape May went 4-17 last season and hopes for improvement.
The Lady Tigers, coached by Kiersten Hughes (fourth season), bring back six players from last year’s team, led by seniors Delaney Brown (SS/2B/P) and Lexi Cremin (OF).
Other returning players include juniors Renata Riesenberg (C/3B), Jenna Ziemba (P) and Mariah Klinger (OF) and sophomore Hailey Elwell (UT).
Newcomers include senior Eleanor Beane-Fox (OF), juniors Janaya Elam (1B) and Amanda Moran (2B), sophomore Kyra Ridgway (3B) and freshmen Isabella Arbelo-Miranda (2B) and Kaylei DeLeon (UT).
Hughes is assisted by Cathy Hofmann, Judy McCullough and Crystal Mount.
Middle Township could be among the contenders in the revamped CAL United Conference.
The Lady Panthers return eight players from last year’s team and are adding some newcomers who should help the program both immediately and in the long term.
The returnees are led by seniors Grace Thompson (INF), Alexis Yaeckel (OF), Dayanna Lopez (OF) and Stefania Mercado (OF). Thompson batted .368 in limited action due to injury.
Other returnees include juniors Isabella D’Alonzo (UT) and Olivia Clarke (INF) and sophomores Emma Messer (OF) and Lily Vogel (INF). D’Alonzo led the team in RBI with 23 last season.
Gabriella Cruz is among the team’s top newcomers.
Middle features some experience and some versatility and should push for a winning season this spring.
Megan Russ is the team’s head coach, returning for her second season.
Middle hosts rival Lower Cape May Friday for its season opener.
A team that often struggles to win more than just a few games each season, Wildwood enjoyed a better showing last spring by winning six times.
With 11 players back, including many starters, Wildwood is hoping for another competitive campaign.
The returnees include seniors Ava Troiano (OF), Imene Fathi (OF/SS), Emily Little (1B) and Amanda Claudio (INF/C); juniors Kaydence Oakley (2B), Maya Benichou (C) and Abbey Pruszinski; and sophomores Charlotte Kilian (P), Ashley Nagle (P/OF), Sinaia Hills (3B/1B) and Sophia Wilber (SS/LF).
Troiano led the team in runs scored (26), RBI (21) and extra-base hits (10) last season.
Newcomers looking to contribute include junior Kalei Budney (UT), sophomore Aslyah Shockley OF) and freshmen Charlie Cunningham-Hackney (2B/OF), Gianna Ccarfagno (P/UT), Evelyn Guzman (3B/OF) and Zuly Arroyo (OF).
Wildwood is coached by Teresa Cunniff. Her assists are Alyssa Cox and Claudia Melchiorre.
The Lady Warriors open the season Friday with a home game against Pitman.
Mark Krause takes over as the Crusaders’ new coach after the team went 5-10 last spring.
This year’s team features just five juniors and seniors, with much of the roster composed of freshmen and sophomores.
Returning players include seniors Rickii Davis and Kristina Winters; juniors Becca Cessna, Camryn Glowacka and McKenna Vessels; and sophomores Emily Evans, Joanna McShaffry, Sienna Sawyer, Dani Shaw and Allyson Vessels.
Freshmen on the roster include J’Lynn Gooch, Emma Johnson, Flynn Krause, Lauren Montalbano and Julia Wallace.
T.J. Johnson is Kruase’s assistant coach.
Wildwood Catholic opens the season Monday at Cape May Tech.