East Ridge softball: Young Raptors start season 1-3The youthful East Ridge softball team has a losing record, but Raptors head coach Tom Nemo said they could easily be undefeated.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
The youthful East Ridge softball team has a losing record, but Raptors head coach Tom Nemo said they could easily be undefeated.
“To be 1-3, a lot of coaches would be pushing the panic button, but we’re the youngest team I’ve ever coached and we could easily be 4-0. We’re just making some mistakes, that’s the sad thing. They’ve been costly and have impacted the outcome of the games.”
This year, East Ridge has an eighth-grade left fielder, a ninth-grade center fielder and a ninth-grade right fielder, sophomores at third base, shortstop and second base, seniors at first base and at catcher and three sophomore pitchers.
“The future does look bright, there is no doubt about it,” Nemo said. “I truly believe in the second half of the season we’ll be a lot better, because we’ll eliminate the mistakes.”
East Ridge lost its season opener 8-7 at Cretin-Derham Hall on Monday, April 9, then fell 5-3 at Forest Lake on Wednesday, April 11, rebounded to beat defending Class AAA state champion Hastings 8-6 on Thursday, April 12, then capped the first week of the year with a 4-3 loss at Mounds View on Saturday, April 14.
East Ridge is 1-3 overall and 1-3 in the Suburban East Conference thus far.
In its most recent game, East Ridge looked poised to hand Mounds View its first loss of the season, going up 2-0 early and leading 3-2 into the sixth inning. However, the Mustangs (5-0; 5-0 SEC) took the lead in the bottom of the sixth and held on for the win. Senior catcher Taylor LeMay went 2-for-4 with two RBI in the game to lead the way.
“Taylor’s our leader,” Nemo said. “We go as Taylor goes. Taylor steps up and does a nice job with the young kids. So does Tia Tourville. We’re lucky to have those two.”
In the loss to Cretin-Derham Hall, East Ridge was ahead 7-1 going into the bottom of the sixth inning, but surrendered the big lead. The Raptors had six errors in the game. Eighth-grade outfielder Megan Tarara was 3-for-4 in the game with a home run and LeMay had a home run. Tarara, the Raptors’leadoff hitter, is batting .429 with four RBI and four stolen bases this year. Nemo said the middle schooler has been a pleasant surprise.
“She’s fun to watch,” Nemo said. “She came out of nowhere. She’s really fast and really quick.”
Against Forest Lake, the Rangers went ahead 4-1, but East Ridge came back to cut the deficit to 4-3 in the top of the sixth inning. However, Forest Lake tacked on a run in the bottom of the sixth to go ahead 5-3 then held on for the win.
In the win over Hastings, East Ridge went ahead 8-2 and never looked back. Junior Brooke Harrington led the way in the win, with a double and a single in her first varsity start.
“They’ve lost some key players,” Nemo said. “We almost found a way to let them back in it too.”
East Ridge took on rival Park on Tuesday, after the Bulletin went to press. Next, the Raptors travel to Roseville on Wednesday, before hosting Stillwater at East Ridge on Thursday.
“I do believe this is the makings of something,” Nemo said. “It’s going to take some time, but the girls are hungry, they want to play and they want to get better. At some point we’re going to win some games. I truly believe this is a team of destiny.”