Maverick spotlight: softball pitcher Coley Ries

Senior right-handed pitcher, Coley Ries, has started her final year playing with the Mavericks. The fifth-year senior has already started the 2017 season off strong, picking up 11 wins and only two losses.

Ries has been playing competitive, traveling softball since she was eight years-old, but started with t-ball and catch from the time she could walk.

“My dad played slow-pitch so we would be out at the field, that gave me the ability to be around softball and try it at a young age,” she said.

The Mankato East high school graduate has earned a long list of accomplishments in her lengthy softball career with Minnesota State. Her accomplishments started in 2014 when she earned the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) Pitcher of the Year, Freshman of the Year and lead the conference with the lowest earned run average (ERA) with 1.44, most strikeouts with 139 and wins with 14.

Ries continued her success into the 2015 season, making the 2015 All-Conference Second Team. She finished her sophomore season with a 2.44 ERA after 41 appearances and a 21-16 record. Ries set a single-season record by posting 297 strikeouts, and threw two no-hitters during the season.

The Eagle Lake-native kept the momentum going into the 2016 season, earning NSIC Pitcher of the Year, and a spot on the All-Tournament Team and All-Conference First Team. She also posted a final ERA of 1.28 over 101.2 innings and 195 strikeouts in conference play. The lowest ERA that year threw 26 strikeouts, while every other member of the top 5 lowest ERA category threw a maximum of 96. Ries earned a total of 434 strikeouts in the season, moving past the first place slot that she set the season before. She also threw nine shutouts, including her third no-hitter and had a 45.1 scoreless-inning streak. Ries also earned the all-time strikeout leader spot with 1,005 career strikeouts and sat eighth for most strikeouts in NCAA Division-II history. In addition to NSIC accolades Ries also received Division-II Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) All-American Second team and National Fast-pitch Coaches Association (NFCS) All-American Third Team honors.

In her senior year, Ries has already earned Fast-pitch News Pitcher of the week, NSIC pitcher of the week, (twice), Fast-pitch New Preseason All-American and NSIC Preseason pitcher of the year.

Ries did not have a typical answer when asked her favorite softball memory.

“I don’t really feel that I can sum it up into one. I would just say that my fondest memories are the people that I’ve met and the experiences that I’ve had,” Ries said. “Not necessarily one game comes to mind or one tournament. It’s more just about the connections I’ve been able to make and the people who have really influenced me through softball. Like our coaches here, both of them have influenced me in a big way outside of softball and as a person too.”

Despite having major success on the field, Ries has faced an obstacle that many athletes face.

“I think my biggest obstacle is that I expect a lot out of myself. I have very high expectations and very high goals because I want to push myself that extra little bit,” she said. “I think it is more rewarding when you achieve goals that are really far out there and hard to get to.”

Although she currently has 89 career wins Ries said she “comes out of wins with lessons, things I should have done better- even if we win, we still need to take something out of it.”

She also believes that the lessons learned on the field can be taken off the field and used in her everyday life.

“Softball is a sport of failure, so when you are playing you are obviously going to deal with tough times, especially as a pitcher. You are going to get a lot of hype when things go well but you are also going to feel like it’s all your fault when they don’t go well,” she said. “Dealing with the mental side of the game is something I had to learn at a very young age. So I think the mental side of the game has helped me in normal life too, of being strong with anything you might face and getting through it. I keep going back to the lessons I have learned from coaches, and that stuff sticks with you.”

Graduating this year with a degree in mass media, Ries was not exactly sure what she wanted to do for a career.

“Coming in I didn’t necessarily know what I wanted to do, career-wise. I thought maybe I wanted to do something sports related, especially after seeing the influence that my coaches had on me personally,” Ries said. “I kind of think that college coaching would be something I may want to try and I’m hoping to help out for the next few years so I can really get a taste of it so I can see if it is something I do in fact want to do.”

Her goals for this season include helping the team to the national tournament and to win the conference. She also hopes to earn her 100th career win, and earn First Team All-American honors.

“Being from Mankato and being able to play at home for the last season of softball I get to play is fun, and being able to have past coaches and teammates and family and friends being able to be there is one of the highlights of my career,” Ries said.

The softball team will take on the Concordia-St. Paul Golden Bears Tuesday at 2 p.m. and again at 4 p.m. in Mankato.

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