Gone are former league Most Valuable Player pitcher Jessyca Rico and four former all-conference first-team selections, infielder Melissa Robles, catcher Stephanie Barraza, outfielder Brianna Gill and shortstop Stephanie Cantu.
This season, nearly half of the 14 players are freshmen. And unfamiliar names will be in familiar places, with freshman Kianna Garza to replace Barraza at catcher and junior Francheska Olvera shuffling to shortstop.
The biggest change will be the pitching position. No. 1 starter Rico, who made 20 appearances in the pitcher’s circle, posting 159 strikeouts in 131 innings, is lost to graduation. Sophomore Sadie Schut and freshmen Bailey Boschi and Lucero Vargas need to answer the call.
"I am very excited about this season, even though it's a lot of girls that don't have a lot of varsity experience," Patterson coach Jennifer Hamm said. "These girls are very willing and eager to take on that challenge. They have been working extremely hard these past couple of weeks."
Hamm, who has led the Tigers to three straight Western Athletic Conference titles, said she thought this year’s team would continue to strengthen the future of the program.
"We have such young talent that is only going to get better as the days continue," Hamm said. "The players are very excited about what is still to come. They really want to step it up and defend the title that we have held for the past three years."
The Tigers will pen at least six first-year varsity players into a lineup anchored by senior Annabel Lopez and junior Xylina Faller.
Among the other projected contributors are junior first baseman Ashton Young, freshman second baseman Cassandra Olvera and freshman third baseman Keana Lindsey.
Hamm also expects impact contributions from Brooke Schaa, a junior, and freshmen Kyra Martel and Brianna Palafox in the outfield.
"My goal for this team is to improve every game," Hamm said. "We still have some work to do on the offensive side, but I can already see so much improvement in the players' approach, when it comes to certain counts at the plate."
The biggest question marks are how long it will take the Tigers’ underclassmen to adjust to the varsity game, Hamm said.
"Right now, the leadership role is probably the hardest one to figure out," she said. "Because we are so young, these girls are still trying to get familiar with one another. But we are seeing some of these younger girls step up. I'm looking at my juniors and my senior to take on the leadership role."
All things considered, it should be another promising campaign for the Tigers, Hamm said.
"This freshmen class has so much talent that it's going to be a fight for positions this year and in the years to come," she said. "I'm interested and excited to see how these girls take on the challenge."