This is part of a series of previews of the Shawnee State fall sports teams as the 2011 season gets underway.
Last year: 9-7 How it ended: 1-0 loss to Campbellsville in MSC Tournament MSC Standing: 4-4, 5th place int league
Graduation Losses: Shawnee State lost just one player to graduation in Kelly Bowles. Bowles was a first team all-MSC player and an academic All-American.
Key Returners: Leading scorer Brittney Brooks returns for her sophomore campaign at middle hitter. Junior defender Marie-Elana Kennedy and sophomore middle hitter Staci Johnson are back as well.
Key newcomers: While many freshmen could make an impact on the Bears in 2011, head coach Rob Appell noted Aubrey Johnson, Alana Stewart, Haley Ruggles and Allison Nagle among players that could be major contributors.
Conference glance: The Mid-South Conference runs through Lindsey Wilson. The Blue Raiders won their 10th league title last season and were selected by the conference’s coaches as the favorites again in 2011. Campbellsville was picked to finish second and Georgetown. The Bears were picked to finish fifth again.
By the numbers: Along with the Bears one loss to graduation, SSU lost five others from last year’s team. Still, nine players, including eight starters are back from the 2010 season. Appell said five or six freshmen could start the season opener, adding he’s confident in their ability that he witnessesed during the two weeks leading up to their first game.
Season Starts: The Bears host Bluefield College on their home field, Shawnee Turf, on Saturday.
SSU Sports information and freelance writer John Stegeman contributed to this report.