For six years, pitcher Aimee Chapdelaine constantly fooled hitters, leading American Heritage to three state titles.
Chapdelaine, however, is now a member of the University of Virginia softball team. Her backup, Chase Redington, moved to California. Senior Alyssa Enrique had surgery in the fall and has begun a rehab schedule.
That leaves the defending champions with freshman Madison Candy and sophomore Jenna Goodrich, who will split time in the circle this season.
“We don’t have a senior leader, but they’ll be ready by the end of the season,” Heritage coach Marty Cooper said. “They’ll be battle-tested. Our schedule is very difficult. ... They’re going to pitch against the top teams in the state and hopefully prepare them for the playoff run — the state championship run.”
Candy, who started one game and recorded a few relief appearances last year as an eighth-grader, averages a pitching velocity in the high 50s.
“I’m confident,” said Candy, who has played softball since she was 7 years old. “It’s a big step. I was kind of preparing for when I would pitch, so it was nothing new. I was ready.”
Cooper and his staff have told Candy and Goodrich, who transferred from Archbishop McCarthy as a shortstop, to trust the defense behind them instead of trying to strike out every batter. During her senior year, Chapdelaine fanned 198 hitters.
The veteran infield includes a senior double-play tandem, a senior catcher and juniors at the corners. As Goodrich explains, the older girls keep her “calm, cool, collected.”
“Just do what I do and know I have a team behind me and rely on them to make the plays for me when I get in trouble,” said Goodrich, who pitched over the summer for her club team. “Know I have a good defense and a set of girls backing me up mentally and physically.”