After falling in the championship game last fall, the Lady Wildcats will be a strong contender for the state title in 2014.

A year after falling to Hilldale in the 4A state championship game, the Bethel Lady Wildcats are looking to take the final step in 2014.

The Lady Wildcats were able to win the slow pitch state title in the spring, the school’s eighth title in that sport and their seventh since their two fast pitch titles in 1998 and 1999.

Head coach Tommy Block thinks he may have the team to challenge for the state title if things come together.

“We’re expecting to have a pretty decent team. Our top five hitters are pretty good. If we get some production out of that lower half we’ll be pretty solid.”

The top hitters for Bethel will include shortstop Bry Flanagan, catcher Mikayla Whitten and Rylee Steward.

“We’ve got some speed,” Block said. “Our top hitters can hit pretty well. We can bunt, lay squeezes down.”

The Lady Wildcats will have strong pitching with Kim Herren as the primary starter.

“She’ll throw the majority of our games,” Block said. “She’s not going to overpower you but when her ball’s moving and hitting spots she does a pretty good job.”

After Monday’s season-opening series of scrimmages at the Firelake Ballfields, Block’s primary concerns for his veteran squad are defense and making the routine plays.

“Overall, we need to work on our defense. It’s just everybody being away from each and needing to get used to each other again. They were spread out on different teams over the season.

“If we can make the routine plays we can stay in ball games. We’re not getting where we need to be.”

The Lady Wildcats will start their regular season on Tuesday with a home game against Maud before playing six games in three days at the Tuttle Tournament, which will also be held at Firelake beginning next Thursday.

“That will be one tough tournament,” Block said. “We’ll have six tough games there.”