Returning starters senior Kelsey Richards, junior Kindra Gingerich (.324 batting average, 13 steals) and senior Brandi Harmon provide a stable backbone, but the field is dotted with new faces.
“We’ve got an all-conference [player] with Kindra Gingerich, she’s going to play center field again, and then Kelsey Richards is back in the infield at shortstop again,” Dyer said. “Kelsey really controls the infield, Kindra can get to about any ball in the outfield.”
Harmon is moving from the infield to left field, and senior Kaitlyn Catron moves from a backup spot to take over in right.
Freshman Crystal Metz takes over as the No. 1 pitcher, with freshman Lauryn Wyrick and junior Taylor Bell as other pitching options, each of whom can play first base.
The infield is largely new as freshman Kaitlyn Kennedy takes over at catcher, sophomore Macey Jordan is at first, freshman Sophia Beachy is at second, and freshman Bailey Thatcher at third.
Looking to mix into outfield spots are senior Arika Richey and junior Elizabethe O’Donnell.
“We’re really counting on the young girls to step up and fill the gaps that were left by last year’s seniors,” Dyer said. “We’re pretty aware of what some of the uppreclassmen can do, and we’ve seen the others play travel and whatnot but we really want to see them step up.
“We’re going to rely a lot on Crystal’s arm, she’s a strong lefty that has really thrown pretty well in preseason. The young ones have really adjusted well though. Still, having Kelsey at short has really helped. She’s played there for four years, and Kindra’s played center for three. The seniors, the leadership has really helped. It’s really anchored our defense.”
Northwestern hosts North Miami on Wednesday.