The Pack, which will start the season Friday in St. George, Utah against BYU, returns eight starters off a team that finished fifth in the Western Athletic Conference a year ago with a 21-34 overall record and 9-12 in the WAC.
The Wolf Pack finished the 2012 season with three consecutive losses to BYU by a combined score of 25-4.
The Pack plays a difficult non-conference schedule, highlighted by a game against UCLA at the Nutter Collegiate Classic on Feb. 24 in southern California. UCLA has won 11 national titles, the last one coming in 2010.
"We'll be tested in the first three weekends of our schedule," Pack coach Matt Meuchel said.
The Pack pitching staff will be led by Karlyn Jones, Ariel Craig, Megan Dortch and Bailey Brewer. Jones was 9-5 last year with a 3.58 earned run average with 21 of her 30 appearances coming in relief.
"She is such a fierce competitor," Meuchel said. "She's a real leader in the circle for us."
Dortch, a Reno native, is a transfer from Northern Illinois. She made 31 appearances in 2012 at the DeKalb, Ill., school with 158 strikeouts in 130.1 innings.
"She will add an additional dimension to our staff," Meuchel said.
Erin Jones returns at third base after missing the 2012 season because of an injury and will help lead the offense. She hit .362 in 2012 with a .574 slugging percentage in 2011.
"She is a special talent at the plate," Meuchel said.
Karley Hopkins moves from shortstop to second base this season. She hit .337 last year with 34 runs scored.
"Pee Wee is so dependable," Meuchel said.
The 5-foot-5 Lauren Lastrapes, who hit .307 a year ago returns at first base. She led the Pack with seven homers and 35 RBI.
"She is an explosive offensive player," Meuchel said.
Sara Parsons, who hit 17 doubles last year with a ,294 average, returns in center field. The corner outfielders again will be Chelsea Barilli, who stole 12 bases last year, and Megan Fincher, who 10 doubles, a triple and three homers.
Catcher Ashley Butera, who hit six homers last year, is also back. A shoulder injury cut her season short.
“The 2013 team has a chance to be one of the best offensive units in program history,” Meuchel said. “This group has a good balance of power and speed and depth.”