Having come so close only to come up short last season, the Hanahan High softball team is aiming for another shot at the Class AAA state championship this spring.

Hanahan advanced to the Class AAA Lower State championship game last May, eventually dropping a 2-1 decision to perennial powerhouse Hartsville. Though disappointed with falling short, the experience gained should serve this year’s team well, according to fifth-year head coach Katrina Moffett.

“Certainly being that close and losing in a close game, it was disappointing for all of us,” Moffett said. “But I think it showed our girls what we are capable of. We certainly can use it as motivation to work harder this season.”

Moffett lost only two starters from last year’s 23-7 team, so the Hawks are once again loaded for an extended playoff run. The coach has seen a renewed focus from her 11-1 team early on in the season.

“This team has very high expectations and they are very focused and serious about the game and the season,” Moffett said.

“They come to work every day, and they are a lot more confident in each other. I think we definitely have the pieces we need, but we have to maintain the focus and continue to improve. If we can focus on each game and not get caught looking ahead, I think we can be ready when the time comes.”

Hanahan has a veteran presence in the circle with the return of junior pitcher Mac-Kenzie Dyson — a fourth-year varsity performer. Dyson has posted an 0.66 earned run average this season.

Sophomore Drayton Siegling also works in the circle with a 1.11 earned run average.

“Both pitchers are very solid, and MacKenzie has been through a lot of tough games and is really a leader for us,” Moffett said. “We know the pitchers will throw strikes, so we have to be good defensively, and so far we have been very consistent.”

Junior first baseman Kendall Grubb (.478, 20 RBIs), freshman catcher Jordan Fabian (.436, 16 RBIs) and sophomore shortstop Ashley Meckley (.407, 10 runs) anchor a balanced offensive lineup that posts a .374 team batting average through 12 games this season.

The team’s only starting senior — left fielder Baylee Westbury — has 13 RBIs and has scored 10 runs while hitting .341, and junior center fielder Lauren Anderson is hitting .341 with 11 runs scored and 10 RBIs.

“We’ve been fairly consistent so far, but we’re always working hard to be more consistent at the plate throughout the lineup,” Moffett said. “Once you get to the playoffs, the pitching is good every night. We feel that we still have a lot of room for improvement, but we’re also pleased with what we have been able to do so far.”

Hanahan’s first goal, said Moffett, is to win the Region 8-AAA championship. The Hawks are off to a good start with wins in their first three league outings, including a 3-0 win over another region contender — Berkeley.

Hanahan also has early wins over Class AAAA Wando and Summerville as Moffett tried to schedule tougher competition in the non-region slate of games.

“We feel we will have seen some very good teams by the time the playoffs come so we should be ready,” Moffett said. “The big thing this year is that we have the target on our backs. That can be some pressure and we’re still a young team. So far, we have handled it well. I’m very pleased with how this group is approaching every game.”