The Sporting Insider: Underclassmen Overachieve


This late into the season, all seven Webster University spring sports teams know who their leaders are and who they can count on to step up when the pressure is on.
Teams typically rely on their veterans to carry them into postseason play, but that’s not the case this year. Even though many juniors and seniors are having All-Conference type seasons, it’s freshmen and sophomores who are coming up big, and in several cases, carrying their respective squads.
A trio of freshmen pitchers, Dylan Dean Smith, Zach Schneider and Brandon Shaw, lead a Gorlok pitching staff that doesn’t have a senior on its roster. Smith (4-0, 1.61 ERA), Schneider (2-4, 2.33 ERA) and Shaw (2-1, 3.71 ERA) have started 16 of Webster’s 27 games.
The golf team’s roster is loaded with freshmen and sophomores, but a lack of collegiate experience hasn’t held the squad back. Freshman Kaleb Kessler has had a fantastic season. He earned conference player of the year and newcomer of the year honors for finishing first in the SLIAC championship tournament, which the Gorloks won.
Sophomores Kyler Scott, Steven Kinsman and Dan Klipsch have had great years as well. The Gorloks have won three of the past four events they have played in thanks to the sophomore trio’s play.
A strong core of freshmen and sophomores has contributed to the Webster softball team’s 8-2 SLIAC record. Starting pitchers Ashley Meagher and Trisha Thompson are a dynamic 1-2 punch on the mound. Meagher, a sophomore with an 8-4 record and a 3.15 ERA, has been terrific for the second straight year. Thompson, 6-3 with a 2.83 ERA, went the distance in six of the eight games she has started this year as a freshman.
Sophomores Agustin Villalba, Diego Alarcon and Ricky Eaves, who respectively play No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 singles, power Webster’s men’s tennis teams. Villalba (10-5), Alarcon (12-3) and Eaves (9-6) have led the Gorloks to an 11-5 record. Alarcon and Eaves have teamed up for a 7-6 record at the No. 1 doubles spot.
Sophomore Lindsey Hays has had a record-breaking season for the women’s tennis team. Hays is in the midst of a 17-match winning streak and was recently named to the All-Conference first team after winning the No. 3 singles flight at the SLIAC individual championship. Hays is 9-2 in singles play and 9-1 in doubles.
The men’s track and field team has had good performances from sophomores Daniel Henkey, A.J. Wallace and Aaron Oberneufemann. Henkey set a school record in the 1,500-meter run at the WashU Invitational and placed fifth out of 46 in the one-mile run at the Rhodes College Invitational. Wallace and Oberneufemann finished third and fourth respectively in the triple jump at the Rhodes College Invitational.
The women’s track and field team has had sophomores Tori Fenemor and Jane McKibben and freshman Eroica Stackhouse put up solid numbers in their events. Fenemor broke the school record in the shot put at the Rose-Hulman Twilight on April 15. Stackhouse and McKibben finished fifth and sixth respectively in the 5,000-meter run at the Rose-Hulman Twilight.
So while the expectation for most teams is that the upperclassmen will lead the way, it’s the underclassmen that are showing their talent. Whether that’s good for Webster athletics this spring season is still to be determined, but there is little debate that the experience and success of the young athletes will at least pay off a couple years down the road.

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