Entering the 2012 season, the Kenyon College baseball roster features only two seniors with significant experience on the diamond, but don't mistake the Lords for an untested squad. Several members of the talented rising sophomore and junior classes filled key roles in 2011 and are ready to apply the lessons learned to push Kenyon toward the top of the North Coast Athletic Conference standings.
With youth abounding in the dugout, head coach Matt Burdette can depend on the senior duo of infielder Devin Ensing and catcher Jack Graham to provide veteran guidance. Ensing is a career .270 hitter and Graham led Kenyon with five home runs last year. Defensively, the versatile Ensing can play multiple positions while Graham adeptly handles the Lords pitching staff and has only committed two errors in 174 career chances (.990 fielding pct.).
In the junior ranks, Andrew Dunn and Zack Karson are coming off breakout seasons. On his way to an All-NCAC second-team selection, Dunn slugged 13 doubles and drove in 22 runs as Kenyon's everyday left fielder. Karson seized lead-off duties early in 2011 and proved an apt table setter with a .407 on-base percentage and 14 steals in 15 tries.
Designated hitter Jesse Weiss followed up his .377 freshman campaign with a .337 batting average, two home runs, seven doubles, and 16 RBIs last year. Classmate Mike Danziger boasts a sweet left-handed swing, which he used to hit .312 a season ago, and a keen eye at the plate that resulted in only three strikeouts in 117 plate appearances.
The two most important roles on the Kenyon pitching staff also belong to juniors. Tyler Dierke is the team's ace with 10 wins and a 4.20 earned run average to go along with an impressive 78:20 strikeout-to-walk ratio in two seasons in Gambier. At the backend of the bullpen, Alex Kendall flourished as a first-year closer in 2011 when he made 16 appearances, saved three games, and posted a 3.20 ERA.
One of the youngest Lords last season arguably had the biggest impact on the team. As a freshman, Nate Lotze led Kenyon and ranked third in the NCAC with a .442 average and a .522 on-base percentage. Lotze also played tremendous defense at first base with a .983 fielding percentage and appears poised for a big sophomore campaign.
The Lords' season gets underway February 17 with a four-game set at Virginia Intermont College.