With the 2017 season rapidly approaching, we roll on with our D2 Revue by chatting with Saint Leo Head Coach and recent Hall of Fame inductee Erin Kinberger about the preseason favorites in the Sunshine State Conference. The Lions enter the season ranked #17 in the preseason NFCA Polls after going 39-8 in 2016 and winning the SSC by going 21-3 in conference play. On this interview, we chatted with Coach Kinberger about
- Handling the expectations of being the preseason SSC favorite
- Where she was when she was announced to the St. Leo Hall of Fame
- What made the 2016 team so special
- The biggest key to continuing their success from last season
- Having Sammy Marshall as a part of her talented staff
The Coaching Staff:
Erin Kinberger has established herself as one of the rising stars in Division II by winning 72% of her games in her five seasons as coach at both her alma mater St. Leo and previously at Fort Hayes State. She has twice won coach of the year for the conference in 2013 and in 2016. Coming into this season, Coach Kinberger is 15 win away from 200 for her career. The Lions staff is dynamic and experienced with Maddie Holub, Al Affrunti, and grad assistant Sammy Marshall.
About Last Season:
Many feel that the framework for the 2016 season was laid at the end of 2015 where the Lions won 11 in a row to close out the season. That confidence would serve them well 2016 saw St. Leo produce one of the most dominant seasons in school and Sunshine State Conference history. The Lions started 37-1 as they cruised their second SSC championship in four years. The Lions were justly rewarded as they became only the second school in the last 10 seasons to sweep all four regular season awards. They set numerous school records including consecutive wins (23), conference wins (21) and batting average (.323).
W2W4 (Who 2 Watch 4): The majority of last year’s roster returns in 2017 including SSC Player of the Year Rachel Heath. Heath last season established herself as one of the dominant lead-off hitters in the country as she led the Lions in Runs (39), Hitting (.426) and also paced the conference with 38 stolen bases. Many feel that her game will be even better this season having Sammy Marshall as an assistant coach.
Someone who will benefit from Heath being on base so much will be Senior Samantha Ohmie. Last season, the Californian led St. Leo in Doubles (11, tied) and Home Rums (5) as well as walks (20). She will look to help continue pace the Lions offense and will get some help from catcher Sommer Pollard who came on strong late and will be asked to help support the Lions pitching staff
As strong as their hitting is, their pitching will look to again be one of the elite in the nation. In the first two seasons under Coach Kinberger, the Lions finished top-two in the nation in ERA. Leading this staff for 2017 will be reigning Sunshine State Conference Pitcher of the Year Stephanie Adkins
She transferred in to the program last season and she became an immediate impact player by going 18-4 with a 0.99 ERA. She formed a dominant 1-2 punch with Alana Tabel as the Lions led the nation with a 0.93 ERA. Not only was Adkins named Pitcher of the Year, but she was also named an NFCA All-American. This year, she will be the anchor of the staff, but look for some big things from Samantha Tyler who will get the first shot at being that #2 starter. Last year, Tyler was 7-1 with a 1.26 ERA in 11 appearances.
Did You Know: In her first two seasons, Erin Kinberger already has the highest winning percentage (.796) in program history.