WILSON — It would be a colossal waste of time trying to come up with anything negative to say about the 2006 Wilson varsity softball team — a 14-player roster that features an abundance of talent and smarts both on the field and in the classroom.

With 12 returning varsity players, including eight starters from last year, the Lakewomen are among the top teams to beat in the Niagara-Orleans League this season.

They’re already No. 1 in the classroom. Four members of the varsity softball team — seniors Meagan Diez and Stephanie Reagan and junior Katherine Wolcott — were members of Wilson’s award-winning basketball team (along with Mary Gorman, Kari Seabert, Amy Frauen and Lauren Howe) that earned a second straight Team Scholar Athlete honor from the state with a combined grade point average of 97.2 percent.

That’s a great source of pride to “Mr. 400,” veteran Lakewomen head coach Larry Lash, who’s entering his 32nd year. Lash boasts an incredible 402 career wins as of this week (259 losses). Last year’s team finished 14-11 overall and 9-3 in the league.

The only key player lost to graduation is Cortney Krueger (RF), so naturally, Lash is optimistic.

“We certainly have the potential to be a really good team,” Lash said.

“We have 10 girls coming back this year who started at some point in the season last year.

Leading the pack is All-Western New York shortstop Haley Meier, who boasted a .917 fielding percentage a year ago. Meier also excelled at the plate in 2005, batting .500 for the season.

Among other returning starters are seniors Alicia Mills (C), Diez (CF), Reagan (2B) — who missed all of last season with a torn ACL — and starting pitcher Amber Kraft (P/2B) and junior Erica Horvath (2B/3B/P).

“Amber’s a good, smart pitcher good location and decent speed,” Lash said.

“She’s a pitcher who knows where to put the ball.”

Mills, a top-notch catcher who threw out 10 base runners last season, was selected as an N-O second team all-leaguer in 2005, batting .333. Diez, a first team all-leaguer last year, batted .512 and added an excellent .646 on base percentage. Kraft was an all-league selection in 2004.

The versatile Horvath batted .356 in 2005 with a superb fielding percentage of .919. Lash described her as one his team’s top hitters.

Rounding out Wilson’s 2006 varsity softball roster are seniors Emily Bloom (1B), back-up pitcher lefty Samantha Ketch (LF), Charissa Kiszka (3B) and Katie Mangel (RF), juniors Brittany Pollow (OF) and Julie Tagg (C) and sophomore Brittany Casino (OF).

Wilson opens its 2006 N-O slate April 24, hosting Akron.

“With 12 returning players, eight of whom were starters, this could be a very good team,” Lash said.

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