The Kenyon College Ladies will have a new look entering the 2012 season after graduating a group of seniors that defined the team for the past four years. Their absence leaves only five returning players on the roster, meaning the incoming freshman class will be called on to make an immediate impact.
Gone are Brittany Vanegas, Brianna LaChusa, Samantha Sims, and Margaret Rodgers. That group helped the Ladies win a total of 62 games during their careers. All of their contributions will be missed, but perhaps none more so than Vanegas, who owns a prominent position on almost every career hitting, pitching, and fielding record list at Kenyon.
One thing that will ease the transition is the fact that the Ladies still boast one of the best middle-of-the-order combos in the North Coast Athletic Conference. Junior Emily Prehoda slugged her way to a position on the 2011 all-conference first team after leading the Ladies with a .439 batting average, four home runs, and 26 runs batted in during her breakout sophomore campaign. Fellow junior Jamie Samuel has accumulated a .390 average with 40 runs scored and 41 RBI in her two seasons in Gambier.
In addition to anchoring the Kenyon lineup, Samuel and Prehoda give Kenyon's pitching staff an experienced duo. Samuel logged a team-high 130 innings last season and produced a 4.31 earned run average while striking out 59 batters. Prehoda was called into action midway through the spring and started nine games. Second-year head coach Erin O'Neill will also look to a few newcomers to ease the workload on her two stalwarts.
Another junior, Hannah Smith, emerged as an offensive asset in 2011 by hitting .255 and ranking third on the team with 13 RBI. That production puts her on the inside track for one of the corner outfield spots in 2012 with senior Erin Armentrout likely to take the other. The Ladies also benefit from the return of Molly Goolman, who started all 34 games at second base as a freshman.
Kenyon begins its season March 4th with a ten-day trip to Fort Myers, Florida for the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic.