there." Renkoski said. "Having some returning pitchers will really help
us as our new players get comfortable."
Leading the Lions' pitching staff will be sophomore Gina Liebengood, who
was a second-team All-American selection as a freshman, going 22-4 with a
Junior Alysia Atchley (8-0, 1.11 ERA) and sophomore Cheri Smith (4-0,
3.39 ERA) will also see a ton of innings, both as starters and relievers.
"I'll use all three of my returning pitchers as starters or in relief,"
Freshman catcher Meredith Devey will have a lot of fast learning ahead of
her in order to handle the Lions' pitching staff.
"It's obviously a big change going from high school to college and she's
got a big load ahead of her," Renkoski said. "But she's doing pretty well
with all of it. She carries a lot confidence on the field."
First baseman Valerie Vanaken (.350, 41 RBIs) and outfielder Rachel
Carver (.277, 21 RBIs) are the only two seniors on this year's squad and
Renkoski will look toward them for leadership and offensive production.
"We still have some good leaders on this team," Renkoski said. "We're
gonna have to rely on several returners to keep our tradition moving in
the right direction."
In the infield, second baseman Erin Gomez, along with Vanaken at first,
will anchor the right side, while junior college transfer shortstop
Andrea Saucedo and freshman third baseman Jill Jensen will hold down the
"The biggest thing with the infield is how well they mesh together,"
Renkoski said. "Fortunately, we have players that can play different
positions, so we have some options."
Carver will lead the outfield in left, while speedy sophomore Stacey
Caggiano takes care of center and junior Nikki Benning holds down right.
Offensively, Renkoski feels that this team has more speed and power from
top to bottom, but experience could be the main missing intangible.
"Our experience together is the biggest factor," Renkoski said. "We need
to get some innings under our belt playing together. Once we do that, our
confidence should get stronger and we'll be more comfortable."