Mt. Angel — Fresh off a state title in 2021, the Kennedy Trojans come into 2022 as the consensus top team in 2A/1A and the favorite to repeat as state champions this June in Eugene. The Trojans have an incredible ace in Jenna Hopkins, who is only a Junior and coming off an absurd 2021 season in the circle. However, plenty of senior losses on offense will make that road bumpier for the Trojans: Their top three offensive producers (Hailey Arritola, Kelsey Kleinschmit, Ellie Cantu) all graduated, bringing plenty of work to make up for in the batting order this Spring to help Hopkins as she runs the circle.
Lydia Berning and Hopkins will look to be the anchors in the batting order for Kennedy. bringing plenty of reasons to be excited for their growth this season. Berning is a multi-tooled threat and the data correlates that label: Out of all her at-bats last season, 54% of them were quality at-bats and she hit .490 when putting the ball in play, finishing second on the team to only Arritola in that department. She tied Arritola for the team lead in stolen bases, hit .611 with runners in scoring position, and hit .490 with 17 RBI on the season. Look for Berning to step up with even bigger numbers this Spring as she steps into the role of becoming a primary contributor on offense.
For Hopkins, she is an ace first and a slugger second. In the Spring, she mowed down hitters like a lawnmower, striking out 169 hitters in 80 innings of work en route to a spotless 16-0 record in the circle. She only had three earned runs all season with a 0.26 ERA, shows excellent command with only seven walks allowed, delivering strikes on 74.2% of her pitches, and went all year without allowing a single home run either. Needless to say, Hopkins is the cream of the crop in the 2A/1A landscape. On offense, she was the best out of all the non-seniors in slugging percentage at .744, went for 1 HR and 19 RBI, and had half of her at-bats qualify as quality ones. She’ll definitely be a contributor in a bigger way this season, look for those numbers to become inflated with so much production gone from the graduating class.
Fortunately for Kennedy, they are locked in the pitching department for at least 2022 and 2023, turning their focus to being able to produce enough support for their ace in the event that she needs it at any moment in time. The Trojans will get bigger contribution from Morgan Kyle and Lydia Berning as well, two girls that got regular time in the Spring and will be expected to step up bigger. No one can replace the Trojan legends Hailey Arritola or Ellie Cantu, but with Jenna Hopkins doing what she does in the circle, the Trojans will undoubtably have the time to figure it out before it matters the most this Spring.