On a team loaded with seniors, three sophomores have earned a spot in the starting lineup and are expected to play a key role in getting the Waxahachie Indians back to the postseason.

David Martinelli, Trent Armstrong and David Villarreal all spent time on the varsity last season as freshmen and with the 2011 season drawing near head coach Tracy Wood expects all three to be a big part of the team’s success.

Martinelli will bat in the middle of the lineup, possibly cleanup, while playing short stop after playing third most of the second half of district in 2010.

“I love both positions but I have played short stop all my life so probably most comfortable there,” Martinelli said. “The switch is great for me, I love short stop and Cody Brown is a great third baseman. There is always pressure being on varsity, but I have made a strong bond with all of my teammates. We all feel the same pressure and that is to win.”

Armstrong led the team in several pitching categories as a freshman and is the most consistent strike thrower while Villarreal can flat out hit. The sophomore three are young, but have just about the same amount of experience as the rest of the seniors on varsity.

Last season all but two players were varsity rookies for the Indians and at times it showed. Wood expects a more veteran-like approach this season.

“Last year these guys were young and inexperienced. They did not know what was up or down. They did not know how to handle me or failure very well. We just were not very tough mentally and we kind of shied away a little bit,” Wood said. “I am already seeing a difference in the leadership with our seniors. I am already seeing a difference in our confidence and we are playing a little looser.”

Michael Bosch makes his Waxahachie varsity debut this season, but has played two years for Maypearl’s varsity team. He and Martinelli are two that have impressed Wood the most in scrimmages.

“Martinelli and Bosch are two guys I have already seen big differences in. We return every guy and all 15 guys on our roster are going to take part in what we are doing. We have a legit bench that we can do things with,” Wood said. “Jeremy Escobar can play utility infield for us, come off the bench and hit or come off the bench and run. Andrew Smith can play outfield, pitch and hit. Will Atkins has had two big hits in the scrimmages off the bench. I think we have 15 quality guys who will play a big part in what we do.”

Bosch was 6-for-8 in the first two games of the season for Waxahachie while Martinelli displayed his power with a line-drive home run against Birdville in the opening game of the First Pitch Classic in Grapevine.

Villarreal batted behind Martinelli in both tournament games Thursday and was 3-for-3 against Birdville with a double.

The newcomers to the lineup join a strong group of hitters that can make average, or slightly above average, pitchers pay on any given night like they did in the season opener by run-ruling Birdville 14-1.