The cold of winter will soon be replaced by the sound of bats hitting balls as a new season for the Dover Senators begins.

Over the last decade, Dover has been one of the more consistent programs in the state. Last season, the Senators made their ninth straight playoff appearance and nearly walked away with a state title.

With an 11-6 overall record, they reached the tournament semifinals, where they fell in a 10- inning thriller to the Cape Henlopen Vikings.

Knowing how close they came to their ultimate goal, the Senators are eager to get back on the diamond.

“The kids are very excited about the start,” said head coach Dave Gordon. “Everybody has been working hard to make it back to where it ended last season.”

This year’s team will look a lot like last year’s. While the Senators will be without six seniors from the 2018 team, returning players include a large senior class made up of Andrew Carney, Michael Carrington, Samuel Courtney, Christopher Dabney, Hiram Davis and Dylan Jacobs.

The Senators also return juniors Nathan Turner and first-team All-State pitcher Dominic Velazquez, along with sophomore Alec Rodriguez.

Dover’s batting lineup “will always take care of itself,” Gordon said. “Kids will get opportunities to make and stay in the lineup.”

Pitching depth should be a strength, with a lot of talent in the rotation and plenty of other options outside it.

“The rotation will have Velazquez, Davis, Carney and Carrington up top,” Gordon said. “However, we have another group of arms, Mason Greene, Jeremy Steele, Gabe Skay and Matt Bieker, who have come up from JV and they look promising.”

With a deep group of returnees and some promising newcomers, Dover hopes to once again find themselves on the doorstep of a title.

“The goal is to always play the last game of the year,” Gordon said. “Five times we’ve been so close to achieving that game. With the experience we gained last year, this group is primed for another run.”

The Senators open their season Friday afternoon on the road at Sussex Central starting at 4:15 p.m.; Dover’s home opener is Tuesday, March 26, against Lake Forest, also at 4:15 p.m.