The Lady Wolves will have a veteran squad when they open the 2014 season on Thursday.

After finishing two games under .500 and one game short of the state tournament, the Shawnee Lady Wolves return all but two starters and are looking for more wins in 2014.

One of the major changes for Shawnee softball will be at the top, where David Rolette will take over as head coach after being an assistant last season.

“We should be about where we were last year,” Rolette said. “We ended up 16-18 and were in a real tough regional but almost went to the state tournament. It would be nice to flip that around and make it to state. That would be our goal.”

The Lady Wolves had their first and only scrimmage of the preseason on Thursday when they hosted Dale. The Lady Wolves struggled to generate any offense against the Lady Pirates, something Rolette hopes improves before Shawnee opens the season next Thursday at home against McAlester.

“We should be really sound defensively,” Rolette said. “We’ve got to get better offensively. We’ve got to start hitting the ball hard. We’re putting the ball in play, we’re not striking out a lot, but we’re not putting it in play with authority.”

Among the top returning hitters for the Lady Wolves will be junior third baseman Kelsey Simmons, senior catcher Taylor Chamblin, junior Alexis Freeman and senior infielder Kristen Grabin.

“I think we’ll be fine once we get going,” Rolette said. “That [Thursday] was our first time to see live pitching.”

In the circle the Lady Wolves will have returning starter Kylee Thompson, but behind the senior righty Shawnee will be very young.

“[Kylee] doesn’t overpower you, but she moves the ball in and out, changes speeds, and throws a good curveball. We’ve got a freshman and a couple of sophomores that we’re going to work in who are just starting to throw.”

The Lady Wolves will be in District 5A-4 once again for the 2014 season. District standings are used to determine regional pairings come playoff time, with the top two finishers in each district earning the right to host a regional tournament.

Shawnee’s first game of the season will be a district game against McAlester and they will host a doubleheader with Tulsa Memorial on the following Saturday.

Other teams in 5A-4 include perennial state power Carl Albert, Bishop Kelley, Guthrie, Durant and Tulsa Edison. The Lady Wolves will see most of those teams before the end of August.