Last season, Cape Henlopen finished the year with an 8-10 mark, leaving them on the outside looking in at the playoff picture.

This season, after losing several seniors contributors, the Lady Vikings look to rally around their young returning core in an effort to grow the program back into a state tournament contender.

Cape Henlopen parted ways with four graduating seniors from last year’s squad, but enter the 2018 season with nine returning players. Back for the Lady Vikings are their one and only senior in Reagan Jackson, along with returning juniors Chloe Fluharty, Haley Rauch and Savannah Reed, with sophomores Ryleigh Elliott, Sierra Gloria, Kelsey Huling, Kaniah James and Gianna Vayda also back in the fold.

While the Lady Vikings don’t have the senior leadership that other teams might have, they’re hoping their experience will help lead to more wins this season.

“We’re looking for our returning players to provide some leadership for the new players and continue to develop as student-athletes in the program,” said Cape Henlopen Head Coach Shannon Timmons. “We’re obviously focusing on player development and team chemistry early on.”

So far, the Lady Vikings have struggled out of the gates, winning just one of their first three games. However, simply stating their record at 1-2 doesn’t tell the whole story.

After falling to a very impressive Sussex Tech team in their opener, Cape won their first game of the year, knocking off Laurel, 8-1. They dropped their next game to Lake Forest, but fell by just a run, 1-0 as their bats were kept quiet by an outstanding performance in the circle by Lake’s Kaitlyn Stahre.

There have been bright spots early this season for Cape; Reed pitched a two-hitter in an 8-1 win over Laurel and Jackson and newcomer Kaeli O’Neill-Willey have shown some early pop at the plate for the Lady Vikings.

If Cape Henlopen hopes to get back to the state tournament this season, they’ll have to find a way to win some big games. On Friday afternoon, they’ll take on their biggest test yet in defending DIAA Softball State Champion Milford.

The Lady Bucs opened the season with a character win over Caesar Rodney, knocking off the Lady Riders in the seventh inning, 11-10. Down 10-9 in the seventh and final inning, Darby Brennan led off the inning with a game-tying homerun. Morgan Petty followed up Brennan’s long-ball with a double, before Kalaysia Reynolds singled her home for the game-winning run.

Milford made things a little easier on themselves in their second game of the season, defeating Woodbridge in impressive fashion, 12-1. Morgan Abbott was tough in the circle, pitching five strong innings allowing one run on just four hits while striking out four in the win.

The Lady Bucs also boast a strong lineup as Reynolds, Petty, Macey Myers and CJ Kohel all had multiple hits for the Lady Bucs in their most recent win over Woodbridge; Reynolds led the way going 3-for-4 at the plate.

For Cape Henlopen, they’re striving to reach Milford’s level. However, under different circumstances, the Lady Vikings are relying on what Coach Timmons says is their biggest strength, their growing youth.

“These first few weeks have been about conditioning, building relationships and setting personal and team goals that for our vision for the season,” Timmons said. “These kids are working everyday to be the best in technical skill, strategies and being a good teammate.”