With seven starters returning from last year's championship, the Lady Pirates are looking to go back-to-back.

After rolling to a 40-1 record and the 2A state championship last fall, the Dale Lady Pirates are bringing back seven starters as they look to repeat as champions in 2014.

“We got seven starters back and we had some good players on the bench,” head coach Andy Powell said. “I think, on paper, we should be pretty good again, barring any injuries or unforeseen circumstance.”

The Lady Pirates will be led by the pitching duo of Erin Harris and Taylor Powell, who combined for 220 innings last season.

“That’s our strength,” Andy Powell said. “We can score some runs, but all good teams are built on their pitching and their defense. That’s one of the main reasons we’ll be pretty good.”

That Lady Pirates followed up their fast pitch state title with a runner-up finish in slow pitch in the spring, where Powell says his team’s defense gets its edge.

“A lot of people don’t understand and a lot of people don’t like slow pitch, but we like it at Dale. We feel like all of our time that we spend out there makes us a lot better defensively.”

The core of the Lady Pirates’ lineup will be twins Lacey and Lauren Hood, along with Dani Manning.

“Those three, on paper, are looking to be our top hitters,” Powell said. “Having lost two All-Staters, we got a couple of girls that need to step up.”

Having been number one all last season and finishing with the state title, Powell knows his team will be under fire all season.

"Everyone is going to be fired up to play us. We’re going to get everyone’s best and even more than that, everyone’s going to play over their heads. How we handle that mentally is going to be a big key for us this year.”

The Lady Pirates will play a tough schedule featuring some of the toughest teams in the biggest classifications. Dale will open the season at home on Tuesday against Cache, consistently one of the tougher programs in Class 4A. Dale will then play in the Chisholm Trail Class beginning on Thursday and continuing through Saturday.