In his seventh year as head coach, Blanchester’s Kurt Ballinger has eight returning starters from last year’s 5-9-2 squad.
With 12 total letterwinners returning, Ballinger is hopeful of a strong season but said defending champion Bethel-Tate is the team to beat. The Lady Tigers edged Williamsburg for the SBAAC National Division crown.
Blanchester, Georgetown and Clermont Northeastern finished in a bunch while battling for third place. The Ladycats finished fifth.
“The SBAAC National Division is very competitive top to bottom,” said Ballinger, who is 41-46-16 in six seasons as head coach and will be assisted by Kristina White.
Gone from last year’s squad are Sierra Drake, who had 15 goals and five assists and is now at Shawnee State University; Taylor McQuitty, who had five goals and seven assists; and Tatum Kirby, who had six goals and four assists.
Among the top returnees are Emily Hinkle, Regan Ostermeier, Olivia Gundler, Savanna Shank and Sally Schafer.
Hinkle was a first team All-SBAAC selection last season and needs eight assists to break the school’s career assist record. Hinkle has 21 career goals and 22 career assists.
Ostermeier has 16 career shutouts and will become the all-time career leader with her first one of 2018, Ballinger said.
Shank was second team All-SBAAC in 2017 and Gundler was given honorable mention.
Ballinger said he like his team’s senior leadership and defensive effort but it needs to improve its aggressiveness in front of the goal to generate more offense.