2012 Spring Preview: LeMay set to lead youthful East Ridge softball teamLast year, the East Ridge softball team went through a transition. This spring, the Raptors are hoping to move forward.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, South Washington County Bulletin
Last year, the East Ridge softball team went through a transition. This spring, the Raptors are hoping to move forward.
Longtime softball coach Tom Nemo stepped in and took over East Ridge last year and led the Raptors to an 11-12 overall record. East Ridge also finished 7-7 in Suburban East Conference play, which was good for fifth place in the final standings.
Nemo has been coaching fastpitch softball for 20 years. Most recently, as an assistant coach, he helped North St. Paul to the 2007 state championship title as well as back-to-back state runner-up finishes in 2009 and 2010, after compiling a 107-54 record as head coach of Tartan.
Senior Taylor LeMay, a team captain and starting catcher, will lead the way for the Raptors on the field. This winter, LeMay signed a National Letter of Intent to play college softball at the Div. II softball Concordia University of St. Paul.
This spring, LeMay will play her fourth season of varsity softball. She has earned All-Conference honors the past three years. Last season, LeMay led the Raptors in average (.388), home runs (3), RBI (16), on-base percentage (.494), extra-base hits (7) and walks (13).
In all, East Ridge has four seniors, no juniors, four sophomores, three freshmen and one eighth grader on its roster. Also returning from last year’s squad to help lead the youthful Raptors on the diamond this year are seniors Kelsey Jarrett, Tia Tourville and Erin Kiefat, sophomore Kayla Bohlke and freshmen twin sisters Ali and Amanda Robinson.
The team will need to replace its lights-out starting pitcher, who also swung a good bat, in Sam Gregory, along with backup pitcher and key hitter Alyssa Ronquillo, who was a Minnesota High School All-Star Girls Softball Series selection last spring.
Nemo is counting on three sophomore pitchers this year – Kelsey Ihns, Michaela Anderson and Madeline Christenson to fill the void on the mound.
“The coaching staff has a better feel for the players with this being our second season,” Nemo said. “We are an extremely young team with three sophomore pitchers leading the way. I think we’ll be OK defensively and will have to work on being consistent at the plate.”
Nemo expects defending state champion Hastings, along with Stillwater and Forest Lake to be the teams to beat in the SEC. In post-season play, the teams standing in the way of the state tournament are expected to be Stillwater and perennial power North St. Paul. East Ridge kicks off the season at Cretin-Derham Hall on Monday, before getting a trial-by-fire at Forest Lake on Wednesday, April 11, against Hastings on Thursday, April 12, at Mounds View on Saturday, April 14, and against rival Park on Monday, April 16.