Sometimes opportunities come when you least expect it. They suddenly appear and you take them and run.

That was the case with 'new' Marian softball coach Joe DeAngelo.

DeAngelo, head basketball coach in the early '90s, assistant baseball coach for 19 seasons, and additional three as an assistant to Paul Brutto's girls basketball team, is also a teacher at Marian.

So, when previous head coach Bud Lauster stepped down after last season, the spring time move from baseball to softball seemed like the perfect fit.

"I just thought that it would be something I'd be interested in," DeAngelo said. "I know a lot of these girls, we've rode the bus with them to games and I've followed how they did. When the job opened up it was a great opportunity to be a head coach once again,

With the move from baseball to softball, DeAngelo had to cross into new territory. The game's may look similar in nature, but fundamentally are different. From the swing and shorter base paths, to the motion of the pitcher.

With 17 years of fast-pitch softball under his belt, the long time assistant baseball coach was confident he could make the switch.

"I wasn't naïve enough to think that I new everything, so I went to clinics, watched video, read books, and learned as much as I could because there's certainly more I can learn," DeAngelo said.

He also made sure his staff was talented as well, especially in the area of pitching.

"I'm fortunate enough to have a pitching coach on staff in Joe Nemeth," DeAngelo said. "He and I went to listen to Jenny Finch and her father speak and picked up some additional information."

All that information will be needed. Gone from last year's team is TIMES-NEWS player of the year Casey McConville. Replacing the three-year starter is a big task.

Two Juniors, Alexa Nemeth and Kayla Knight, are vying for the pitching role. In the end, both may see time on the mound.

"They just need to get some game experience," DeAngelo said. "Once they do that, they'll be alright."

Overall, the transition has been smooth. After being named coach in August, DeAngelo started workouts with the girls. The fall's mild weather allowed them to get outside and workouts in the winter were promising.

"It's been an evolving process," DeAngelo said. "I've been coaching various sports for 30 years, I am also a teacher in the school so I am very familiar with the girls I coach."

That familiarity will only help as the season gets underway. The team returns after a 16-5 campaign last season that resulted in three heartbreaking losses to league Champion Tri-Valley, a loss to District Champ Williams Valley, and one to Minersville

All are traditional powers in their Division of the Schuylkill League that will only be more competitive this season. The Fillies will again have their work cut out for them.

"There is a lot of unknowns so we're cautiously optimistic," DeAngelo said.