Cardinals Looking to Repeat as NESCAC West Champs, Take Second Run at Conference Title
Coming off a record-breaking season with a 21-16 overall record and a NESCAC West title behind a 10-2 slate, Wesleyan has the firepower to make another run at the conference crown in 2009. Last year, the Cardinals met Tufts in the NESCAC championship game after defeating Williams, Trinity and Tufts all in one day to reach the title game.
Leading Wesleyan will be tri-captains Molly O'Connell '09 (main photo), Julia Chamberlin '09 (photo insert lower right) and Katie Grogan '09 photo insert upper left). O'Connell has been the team's starting shortstop since arriving on campus and sported a .258 average in 2008 with a team-record tying five home runs and 19 RBI. Chamberlin has been roaming the outfield for Wesleyan each of her seasons while Grogan has been a regular at second base throughout her career.
Wesleyan has two of its three pitchers from 2008 back including NESCAC Pitcher of the Year Meaghan Dendy '10 (photo insert lower left). As deadly at the plate as she is on the mound, Dendy made 19 appearances with an 11-6 record, 2.36 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 100 innings of work. Opposing teams hit .268 against her. Dendy swung at a .383 clip herself with seven doubles and two homers. She led the team in runs scored with 33 and stolen bases with 14. Anu Rimal '11 is the other returning hurler, making 14 appearances with five starts in 2008.
Other returning starters for the Cardinals are first-baseman Talia Bernstein '11 and catcher Taylor Zavadsky '10. Bernstein tied a team mark for seasonal RBIs with 32 while smacking a team-record 10 doubles along with two round-trippers. She posted an almost flawless .993 fielding percentage in almost 300 chances. Zavadsky was a rock behind the plate and hit .363 with 22 RBI.
The Cardinals will need to fill two vacancies in the outfield and another one at third base due to graduation. Lily Thalheimer '11 is the team's eighth returning letterwinner and has some outfield experience. Wesleyan has five newcomers joining the ranks. Mel Kasulis '11 and Chrissy Bello '12 are outfielders while Sam Epstein '12 and Alexis Kral '12 are infielders. Chelsea Swete '11, like Dendy, pitches and plays infield.
The Cardinals will play a 13-game schedule in Tucson, Ariz. from March 11-19 in preparation for the NESCAC season which begins March 27 vs. Amherst. Out west, Wesleyan will take on talent from throughout the U.S. including defending NCAA Division III champion Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
(all photos courtesy of Rob Bernstein P'11)