MANCHESTER >> For the second straight season, the Burr and Burton Academy softball team will have a new face leading their ball club.
Well, not exactly new.
Lisa Kelly takes over as head coach of the Bulldogs after being an assistant coach on the team last year and coaching the girls' tennis team for more then a decade.
"I am really excited for the opportunity to coach the BBA softball team this season," Kelly said. "I have always enjoyed being a coach in the BBA athletic programs over the years and I am ready for the next challenge."
Kelly takes over a Bulldogs team coming off consecutive 4-13 seasons and last year had trouble fielding a varsity team, only having about a dozen players.
This year though, fielding a full varsity squad will not be a problem as 25 girls tried out for the team when in the season began in March.
"After the great turnout we had to begin the season, we are very excited to see how it helps us get better this year," Kelly said. "The fact that we have now a full varsity and JV squad, really shows that we are getting better as a program."
That process begins with a host of players that they have returning, starting with seniors Darien Halliday and Rachel Senecal. Halliday comes in as the Bulldogs' most experienced pitcher, while Senecal returns as BBA's top hitter and the team's first baseman.
Other returning varsity players for BBA are senior Emma Graf, juniors Amber Whitmore and Jenny Kiernan and sophomore Amber Morris.
Kiernan and Morris will play in the infield with Kiernan playing second and Morris playing third, while both Graf and Whitmore will man the outfield for BBA.
"We have a great solid core group of players returning for us this season," Kelly said. "All of them have a lot of playing experience at the varsity level and have improved a lot during their time in our program."
As much excitement as there is about the returning players, there is equal the anticipation about the younger talent on the roster.
Three freshman made the jump to varsity, including Phoebe Leighton, Brianna Mayne and Angelica Scarlotta all are expected to contribute for the Bulldogs this season, especially Leighton who will be the team's starting shortstop this year.
"We are really excited to see how some of our younger talent can help our ball club," Kelly said. "We have three very good freshman on our varsity roster this season that we feel can help us out a lot and be really good players for us in years to come."
Another newcomer that could make a big impact is sophomore Anna Osnow, who after a year on the track and field team ,decided to come out for the softball team. She's penciled in the starting catcher.
Osnow will bring a lot speed on the bases and has been a great leader for BBA, Kelly said.
"We have high expectations for ourselves this season with the amount of talent and experience we have on our team," Kelly said. "The girls have really come into this spring with the mind-set of being competitive in every game we play this season and all of them have shown during spring training that they really enjoy playing softball and that they want to make this season a successful one for the program."