VALLEY CENTER, Kan. (KAKE) - With only one loss so far this season, Valley Center Softball is on a mission to run it back.

"This year, there is a little bit of a target, but I feel like we're back better than ever, even better than we were last year. So, we're ready for it," Valley Center senior Maci George said.

Clinching the program's first state title last year, the Hornets are determined to repeat with a majority of the same group back this year -- that includes nine returning starters.

"We know that we have a target on our back from everyone. So, it's almost like a push from every other team that you know you're gonna see everyone's best," Valley Center senior Lucy Hooper said.

Valley Center Head Coach Corey Jones has seen it all in his 18 years at the helm, and he wants this year's team to sustain a winning tradition.

"Last year, we didn't have a target on our back like we do now," Jones said. "We've got a lot of publicity and things like that. So they have to keep stepping it up and back it up now, whereas before we really didn't have to back anything up."

Their success has always been a team effort. Eight Hornets are committed to playing softball at the next level, and they believe their close bonds have carried them far.

"Our sophomore year we were all talking to colleges, and figuring out where we were going to go," George said. "It just helped us, even more, get to where we are here today."

"I think it helps because we've had the same team like same varsity for almost three years now, and it's just helped because I feel like the energy has always been the same,' Valley Center senior Ainsley Krause said.

As the team tacks on the wins, the Hornets are looking to keep the same intensity that got them to the big stage last year.

"They just want to win and they just want to get hits every time and, and it doesn't matter who it is. They just want to score runs," Jones said. 

"We're definitely competitors," Hooper said. "At practice, we're trying to strike each other out. We're trying to get each other out like we're pushing each other our hardest because we want to compete. We want to compete with everyone, including ourselves."

"Obviously our goal was (to go) undefeated, but we did take that one loss to a good Maize South team. So that's just pushing us even more to finish off the rest of the season as best as we can," George said.

The Hornets travel to face Newton in a doubleheader on Tuesday starting at 4 p.m.