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Sophomore sensation Rylie Jay puts up huge numbers for red-hot Lemont

LEMONT — Talking to Rylie Jay, one could get the impression that the Lemont shortstop is off to a slow start this spring.

Admittedly tough on herself, the sophomore believes there is room for improvement.

And that can only be a scary thought for opposing pitchers considering Jay was hitting .610 (25-for-41) with five home runs heading into this week.

“I am hard on myself,” said Jay. “I know my goals for this year and I get frustrated because I know what I’m doing wrong. I’m hitting OK but I want to do better. I’m getting there.”

While agreeing that Jay expects a lot from herself, Lemont head coach Chris Traina says she is a joy to coach.

“Rylie is a great kid,” Traina said. “She loves the game and wants to keep getting better and better at it. She is never satisfied.

“She has the athletic ability and the talent but how she works and her wanting to get better and better, that is what is impressive.”

Having already driven in 26 runs while scoring 22 times, Jay’s strong start has coincided with the team’s, as the Indians won 10 of their first 12 games.

“I think we are doing really well,” she said. “We are hitting very well, defensively, our infield and outfield defense is solid and we have really good pitching.”

A year ago, Jay didn’t quite know what to expect from her first season of high school softball. Her goal was to make the varsity and anything after that was icing on the cake. She ended up hitting .435 with five homers and 46 RBIs while garnering all-conference and all-state honors.

“I was actually not looking to start,” said Jay, who has played travel softball with the Lemont Rockers. “I was very humble and quiet and I looked up to the seniors a lot. I was just trying to get into a groove and I got there. It was fun and a great experience.”

This spring, she feels even more confident and comfortable and looks at herself as a bit of a mentor for current freshmen Maddy Vermejan and Anna Smagacz.

“I’m trying to be a role model for our freshmen even though I’m only one year older,” she said.

The Indians have just four seniors on the roster, which, according to Jay, might cause some teams to look past them.

“I think having a young team, other teams might look down on us,” said Jay, who also played soccer and basketball growing up. “But even though we have a young team, we have a lot of good athletes. We don’t feel like we are young, we think we are on the same level with the other teams and that we can compete against them.”

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