ARLINGTON >> A familiar face will be coaching the Arlington Memorial High School softball team this season.
Arlington graduate Aaron Wood will take over the helm of the Eagles softball team in 2016 after coaching the Twin Valley softball team for four seasons.
"I'm really excited to be coaching at my alma mater," Wood said. "I coached the girls soccer team in the fall and I am happy now to get the chance to coach softball in the spring. I'm looking forward to helping the softball program continue to build here at Arlington and get better in 2016."
Wood takes over an Arlington team that is fairly new to the varsity level.
Like their baseball program, the Arlington softball team is in its second varsity season back after only playing a junior varsity schedule in 2014.
In their first season back to playing varsity in 2015, the Eagles went 1-12 and only had 10 players on their varsity squad.
"I've been in this situation, before taking over taking over a similar situation at Twin Valley, so I understand what this team needs to work on," Wood said. "First off we have to get back to basics, especially with a lot of our team being fairly new to the game of softball. Mostly really it's just getting everybody on the team working on the fundamentals."
A good thing, though, for Wood and the Eagles this season is the number of players on the roster.
Arlington will go into the season with 16 girls on its roster, giving the Eagles more depth and talent to work with.
As for returners from last season, seniors Maggie Murphy and Shelby Baker come back as the top two players for the Eagles in 2016.
Murphy will be a big bat in the middle of the Eagles lineup, while playing first base and pitching in the field.
"We have much improved team this year and it's great to see more girls come out for the team, since we have had trouble getting girls to play in years past," Murphy said. "I'm just looking forward to the season and seeing how the team performs out on the field."
Baker returns as the Eagles leadoff hitter and centerfielder. She will also, because of her great fielding ability, be a utility player for Arlington and could possibly be a pitcher in their rotation for them as well.
"We have a very young and talented, so I'm excited to see how we do this year," Baker said. "I understand my role on the team, weather it's getting our offense started by getting on base or playing well at any position I play in, so I'm looking forward to helping the team get better this season and helping the program grow for years to come."
Also returning for the Eagles in 2016 are junior Riley Lane and sophomore Erin Murphy.
Lane will be another utility player for the Eagles in the field and bat towards the top of the team's lineup at the plat, while Erin Murphy will be another power bat in the middle of the Arlington lineup and play multiple positions in the field as well.
Senior Michelle O'Shea will be an impact player in her first year on the team, with her ability to play well in the field and be a speed demon on the base paths.
Sophomore Xandria Hoyt will be another speedster for the Eagles on the base paths, coming over from the track and field team, too.
"Speed on the bases will be a big strength for us this season," Wood said. "Not many teams in our division have the speed that we do, so we need to play fast and force the issue on the bases to score runs."
With more talent and depth on the squad this season, Arlington feels it will be able to compete more in Division IV this season.
"We still have a long ways to go and we still need to see who will step in in certain spots, but I think we will be able to compete with most teams in our division this season," Wood said. "Right now as a team, though, we're focused on getting better at the fundamentals and getting better as a team every single day. If we can continue to do that, we will be in a better spot come the end of the season."