BELLEVILLE — Casey Garrett and Bob Yagge will taking a tag-team approach to coaching the Belleville West softball team this season.
Garrett is pregnant with her second child. Her due date is March 31.
Once Garrett goes on maternity leave, Yagge, who coached the Maroons for 12 seasons from 1996 through 2008 before retiring, will take over the helm.
"Even though I will be going on maternity leave, I won't be gone," Garrett said. "I have to keep an eye on all of them. I'll be making notes and making sure my pitchers are all doing what they are supposed to do. I definitely won't be leaving them."
Garrett said she's already turned over most of the coaching duties to Yagge because she's physically limited in what she can do.
"I've always enjoyed coaching," said Yagge, who has worked as an umpire over the last five years. "It's been a lot of fun for me over the years. With Casey being a former player of mine, one thing we always talk about is making a commitment to each other and helping out if they need help. She called last fall and said, 'I think I need some help in the spring.' I said, 'Let's do it. No problem."'
It's not like the Maroons are lacking in experience on their coaching staff. They also have Kelly Baltz, who coached the Maroons for three seasons before Garrett took over, and Tom Ninnis, who founded the school's softball program and guided it for 17 years.
So that's four head coaches -- all the head coaches in the history of school's softball program -- on one staff.
"We brought them all back," Garrett said. "I even have Kerri Dockins and Kassandra Korte, two ex-players who know what they are talking about as volunteers."
The Maroons also bring back the majority of their players, including two pitchers and four of their five top hitters, from a squad that went 11-23 last season.
"I expect to see really good things from these girls," Garrett said. "We seem more focused. I just think we are going to be more disciplined all around."
The Maroons have four seniors in pitchers Brittany Barlow and Rebecca Touchette, catcher Nadaley Wilson and shortstop Taylor Puuri.
Barlow went 5-9 with a 2.49 ERA last season, while Touchette went 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA last season.
"Both of the pitchers we have coming back are quality pitchers," Yagge said. "One or both maybe struggled last year at times with not knowing what to do or how to do certain things, but they're a year older and more experienced. And, they are seniors. They should be the leaders out there, and that's what we are looking for."
Junior Alyssa Laing adds another arm to the Maroons' pitching staff.
Barlow and Touchette also are strong hitters. Barlow batted .286 with four home runs and 16 RBIs last season, while Touchette batted .269 with three home runs and nine RBIs.
Wilson and junior Hannah Slimack, who hit .280 last season, are working at catcher.
Slimack, Laing and Barlow also can play first base.
Hannah Biermann and Megan Glaeser are vying for playing time at second base.
Puuri, whose .323 batting average was second on the team behind senior Kendra Rakers' .376 average, returns at shortstop.
At third base is either Touchette and junior Cassie Craig.
Sarah Wessel, Alliyah St. John, Emily Fulton, Haley Skaer and Deanna Wilson all are competing in the outfield
The Maroons have more depth than they've had in recent seasons.
"We have freshmen through seniors on the varsity right now, which is good," Yagge said. "You need that if your program is going to grow. You need all levels represented and all levels competing. Plus, on the jayvee level right now, we have five or six quality players who as the season goes on might see some time on the varsity."
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.