By Gerry Steele
Baker girls soccer coach Dee Dee Clarke welcomed 26 players out for the beginning of practice.
That's a much larger number than finished last season, and means the Bulldogs will field both a varsity and junior varsity squad.
"We can field two full teams this season, and that's a big plus," Clarke said.
"This is a nice group of girls. They're working hard, and are focused. They're enjoying themselves so far."
Even with the larger numbers Clarke will be without three regulars - other than those who graduated - from a year ago.
Tonita Britt and Kyana Chaves will miss the season because of ACL injuries, and last year's goal keeper, Danielle Freese, chose not to turn out.
Clarke said senior Rachel Streifel, Baker's keeper two years ago, senior Sierra Howerton and, possibly, freshman Gracie McCarrell are in the picture this year in goal.
Howeton is still recovering from a broken hand suffered during summer softball, so probably will play another position until her hand gets stronger, Clarke said.
Other returning players include Rebekah Rushton, Tanya O'Neal, Erin Parker, Kailie Sells, Allie Brown, Farrell Linscott and Katie Vela.
"And, I have some freshmen who could give them a go for their money," Clarke said.
"We're a lot further ahead than where we were at this time last year," the Baker coach said.
"We have a lot of young players. We're building, but we already look better now than we did at the end of last season. We'll just take one game at a time."