East Ridge softball: Raptors end regular season on three game win streakThe East Ridge softball team entered playoffs on the right foot – winning its final three regular season games.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
The East Ridge softball team entered playoffs on the right foot – winning its final three regular season games.
The Raptors beat Irondale, Woodbury and White Bear Lake last week and finished the regular season 11-9 overall and 9-9 in the Suburban East Conference.
“We finished on a nice roll,” East Ridge head coach Tom Nemo said. “
East Ridge began the week with an 8-3 win over SEC and intra-district rival Woodbury on Monday, May 14, at Ojibway Park in Woodbury.
It was East Ridge’s fifth-straight win over the Royals. The Raptors lead the derby series 5-1.
East Ridge took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. However, Woodbury (4-14; 4-14 SEC) grabbed the lead 3-2 with three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. But, East Ridge put up three runs in the sixth inning and three runs in the seventh inning to blow the game open.
In the win, freshman Ali Robinson was 1-for-3 with a two-run home run and three RBI. It was her first career varsity homer. Also, eighth grader Anna Roth was 3-for-4 with two RBI, senior Taylor LeMay was 3-for-3 with an RBI and sophomore pitcher Rachel Brenner earned her first varsity win throwing two scoreless innings of relief.
“We have three sophomore pitchers carrying the load,” Nemo said. “At one time or another each one has picked up the other one.”
After beating Woodbury, East Ridge flexed its offensive muscles and outscored non-conference foe Irondale 11-9 in a slugfest on Thursday, May 17, in Shoreview.
After scoring three runs in the first inning to take a 3-0 lead on the Knights (14-4), East Ridge allowed six runs in the bottom of the first to fall behind 6-3. However, the Raptors put three runs on the board in the second inning and scored four more runs in the third inning to take a 10-8 lead, then held on for the victory.
LeMay had a monster game at the plate. The senior catcher and Concordia University recruit went 2-for-3 with two homeruns (a grand slam and a two-run shot) and six RBI to lead the Raptors offense.
“She’s been patient at the plate this year,” Nemo said. “We go as Taylor goes. She’s carried us on her back this year.”
Also, freshman Olivia Huffman was 3-for-4 with two RBI and junior Tess Tourville was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
“Everybody hit that day,” Nemo said. “Just about everyone in our lineup had at least two hits. That was a total team effort.”
In the regular-season finale, East Ridge won 8-2 at White Bear Lake (12-7; 11-7 SEC) on Friday, May 18.
“That was a nice win for us,” Nemo said. “It was a nice way to end the season. A huge win.”
The Raptors scored five runs in the top of the third inning, which was more than enough for sophomore starting pitcher Kelsey Ihns, who earned her sixth win of the season, scattering eight hits.
From the plate, Robinson led the way, going 3-for-4 with a double and three RBI. Additionally, Huffman was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
For the year, LeMay led the team in batting with a .414 average, along with team highs in home runs (5), runs scored (13) and was second in RBI (11). Roth was second in average, hitting .367 with 10 RBI and Robinson was third in batting with a .342 average along with a team-leading 13 RBI.
“We needed to protect LeMay in our lineup and we were able to do it with Anna Roth,” Nemo said. “She’s second on our team in hitting. That was huge.”
East Ridge grabbed the sixth seed in the Section 4AAA tournament and faced 11th-seeded Tartan (8-10) in the opening round on Monday, May 21, after the Bulletin went to press. Nemo was the head coach at Tartan High School from 1999-2006 where his teams compiled a 107-54 record. A win over the Titans would put the Raptors into the double-elimination portion of the tournament against third-seed Stillwater on Thursday. Tenth-ranked Hill-Murray (15-2) is the No. 1 seed. No. 1-ranked North St. Paul (17-2) is the No. 2 seed. Hill-Murray beat North St. Paul 4-2 last week.
Nemo said he felt his team was peaking at the right time.
“It’s good to be playing your best ball at the end,” he said. “Our defense is shored up and we’re getting timely hitting and our pitching is coming around.”