Cromwell-Wright softball struggling, not worried about scoresHaving played for the Cromwell-Wright softball team for the past four years, senior Lily Kemi hasn’t seen many wins. And that’s OK with her.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Having played for the Cromwell-Wright softball team for the past four years, senior Lily Kemi hasn’t seen many wins. And that’s OK with her.
“I’d rather play with these Cromwell girls than win every game with another team,” said Kemi, who began playing varsity in 2008 as an eighth-grader and has only been a part of three victories ever. “We always walk off the field with a smile no matter what the score. And I love that.”
Perhaps ultra-optimistic attitudes such as Kemi’s have kept the Cardinals’ program going strong. Last year, the team finished winless on the diamond and this season they are looking young and overmatched at times.
In their three games thus far, Cromwell-Wright (0-3) has taken poundings against Floodwood, Silver Bay and, most recently, Tuesday night at home against Esko. They have been outscored 82-1 in their trio of conference clashes against the Polar League’s elite, yet to players, scores aren’t a concern.
“Scores don’t show how much we are improving,” said Cromwell-Wright senior Johanna Stenson. “We have a really young team, and just to see those girls get better has been fun to watch. I love playing for Cromwell.”
Cromwell-Wright teacher Andrea Ruth has taken over the coaching duties this spring, after former coach Brad Ramberg resigned last fall. Ruth said she has enjoyed her time so far. Both Stenson and Kemi like the transition, too.
“Coach Ruth is awesome,” said Kemi about their coach, who played softball at Duluth Central. “We’ve been working a lot of different things and have improved so much already. We’re just taking things day by day.”
As is Ruth.
“We’re seeing improvement every day,” Ruth said. “We have little experience, but these kids are getting better. We see good things each game.”
Stenson said Ruth has been able to give players the benefit of her past experiences with the sport. The centerfielder-shortstop said that has been a pretty neat thing.
“She’s teaching us things that she learned when she played softball,” Stenson said. “She’s giving us that knowledge and we’re learning a lot.”
According to Ruth, the squad’s only upperclassmen are Stenson and Kemi, along with juniors Emily Warpula, Brandi Peterson and Karissa Sworski. Other than that, the rest of the team is all underclassmen.
Kemi and freshman Kaylan Risacher are the squad’s main pitchers.
“We’re very young and don’t have many players with varsity experience,” Ruth said. “We’re setting small goals, though.”
Ruth said the team’s focus is on non-game days, when practice is held.
“That’s when we get most of our work and see most of our progress,” she said. “These kids want to be here and want to improve. They are disappointed when we don’t have practice. Even on spring break.”
That dedication is keeping the Cardinals optimistic.
“Our goals aren’t too big because that would just be too overbearing for us and all of our younger players,” said Kemi, who also plays infield and outfield when needed. “We know that if we play well, we walk off of the field knowing that we got better.”
As the year rolls along, Stenson likes the program’s chances.
“There will be some games we can win this season,” she said. “We’re just going to do the best that we can. Our younger players are going to improve and when they get older, it’ll be fun to watch them kick some butt.”
Postponements have been common this spring, but competing in the Polar League along with the Cards are Barnum, Carlton, Esko and Moose Lake-Willow River. All schools have kicked off their season. Cloquet split its first pair of contests, while first-year South Ridge has started its season as well. Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College has remained busy, too, playing in over a dozen affairs already.