East Ridge softball: LeMay staying close to homeEast Ridge senior Taylor LeMay signed a National Letter of Intent to play college softball close to home – at the Div. II Concordia University of St. Paul – in a brief ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 10, at East Ridge High School.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
East Ridge senior Taylor LeMay said she has always been a bit of a “homebody.”
Last week, LeMay signed a National Letter of Intent to play college softball close to home – at the Div. II Concordia University of St. Paul – in a brief ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 10, at East Ridge High School.
LeMay’s stay-at-home nature played a big role in choosing Concordia University, which is only 14 miles from East Ridge High School.
“Concordia just seemed like the best fit for me,” LeMay said. “The school seemed great, their coach is almost like a dad to me and their players were really nice. It’s close to home. My parents can come to games and if I want to go home and see my puppy, I can see my puppy. I don’t like being away from my parents for too long. It’s nice knowing if I’m sick of cafeteria food, I can go home and my mom will make something for me. I just feel a lot more comfortable being close to home.”
Taylor’s dad, Jim LeMay, said Concordia head coach Bob Bartel first watched Taylor play as a freshman at Park High School and has been in contact with her ever since. He said Taylor’s decision came down to the University of Minnesota and Concordia.
“It was a good place for her to go,” Jim LeMay said. “To have her close to home and to have us, at least, be abel to show up to her games is important. I think it’d be hard for her to go somewhere and not have anyone there to watch her play. For us, it’s going to be a real treat.”
At the signing ceremony, East Ridge Activities Director Trent Hanson said less than 1 percent of high school athletes sign a Div. I or Div. II National Letter of Intent.
“It’s a really good accomplishment on her part,” Jim LeMay said. “She’s worked so hard for so many years. You strive to get to this point and get rewarded for it. It’s a great thing for her. We’re really proud of her.”
LeMay, a catcher, is the first softball player from East Ridge to sign with a college program.
“With the school being new, there’s a lot of firsts,” East Ridge head coach Tom Nemo said. “It’s nice to have Taylor become the first softball player to do that.”
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). East Ridge finished the year 11-12 overall.
Nemo said LeMay’s offensive ability can carry a team.
“I’ve seen her do that many times,” Nemo said. “She’s a patient hitter. She has a real good eye at the plate and has a very disciplined strike zone. She’s a very good defensive catcher though too and has a Howitzer for an arm.”
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. In addition to leading LeMay and the Raptors last year, Nemo has coached LeMay with his former summer club team the Minnesota Blizzard.
“Yeah, Taylor and I go way back,” he said. “I don’t think she’s even reached her full potential yet. There’s a lot of potential in that young lady. She’s such a determined kid. She doesn’t like to fail and is very coachable.”
Both Nemo and LeMay felt good about having a school picked well before spring.
“I think with her college decision under her belt, sometimes kids think about that too much their senior season, she can focus on a memorable senior year, hopefully,” Nemo said.
LeMay: “It’s nice not being stressed about it. I’m confident in the decision I made. I just felt like that was the best place for me. It’s nice knowing it’s done and I don’t have to worry about picking a school.”
At Concordia University, LeMay will reunite with former teammate Ashley Kluever, an All-State pitcher and 2009 graduate of Park High School. Kluever, the Golden Bears’ top pitcher the past two seasons, has a 33-18 record the past two years, with 269 strikeouts in 316.4 innings and a 3.095 ERA.
“She was one of the first ones to tell me to go to Concordia,” LeMay said. “She said I should talk to her coach and she’d show me around the school. She really showed me Concordia first. I liked it and really thought I could go there. I’ve never wanted to go to a school where I didn’t know anybody. I’m kind of quiet and shy and just needed somebody there that was older and that I could go to if I needed to. I knew she was there and that was important for me.”
Concordia University, which plays in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) alongside teams like Bemidji State, Minnesota State-Mankato, St. Cloud State and the University of Minnesota-Duluth, finished 31-21 last year.
Nemo and Taylor LeMay said Concordia has a very strong freshman recruiting class.
“I know a lot of people there already,” LeMay said. “I’ve played against most of them already. Two years ago they were very good. Last year they were plagued with big injuries. But, they’re coming back. I think we can do what Mankato did last year and go to the NCAA tournament.”