|Free-swinging slugger leads way for Knights
By Bruce VanBaren
Junior Ruth Diemer was the linchpin to the Calvin softball team's offense this season, leading the Knights in average, hits and RBIs, as well as on-base and slugging percentages. A .300 hitter last year, her first season, she batted .374 in the leadoff spot for the Knights, collecting 34 hits and 15 RBIs. She also led the team in stolen bases, with a perfect seven of seven attempts.
Diemer was also outstanding defensively despite a nagging hand injury that kept her out of the team's spring break trip. A right fielder, she committed only two errors in 28 games and had four fielder assists.
Diemer also performs well in the classroom, maintaining a 3.96 grade point average. She is a business major and English minor with a passion for writing and reading. After college she hopes to pursue a career in business management.
Balancing studies and athletics is one of the most difficult challenges a collegiate athlete faces, Diemer said. “Some people say it's really easy [to balance school and athletics],” she said. “I have a hard time because I enjoy being not busy, and when softball season rolls around it's busy.”
She is only in her second season with the Knights, as she decided to play softball just a week before the team's spring break trip her sophomore year.
“I didn't want to play originally because I didn't want to be too busy at college,” Diemer said. “I was really worried about that, and I really wasn't planning on playing at all throughout college.” But she received a call one night last year from a friend of her brother Andy, an assistant coach of the team, urging her to play. Diemer tried out, and the rest is history.
“Softball has been really good for me,” she said. “It has really helped me be part of a group and to be more involved in college and to take advantage of the things you can do in college.”
A speedy leadoff hitter, Diemer's favorite college memory is a walk-off home run at Adrian last season, the only out-of-the-park home run in all her years of softball, which reach back to when she was 5 years old. “It was really nice; our bus driver actually got the ball for me,” she said.
Diemer was a two-year varsity player at McBain Northern Michigan Christian High School, where her dad was the assistant coach. She came to Calvin mainly because her older four siblings graduated from Calvin College and recommended it to her.
She made the transition to college softball easily, starting out her first year with an average hovering around .500, initially. She bats with a unique swing and was appreciative that Coach Bakker didn't force her to change it to a more conventional swing.
“I appreciated that coach let me do it my way,” she said. “In the past, coaches always wanted to change it.” She also credits her time pitching in high school to her ability to hit in college.
As an upperclassman this season, Diemer saw herself as a silent role model. “I don't like to be so outspoken, but I try to work hard and improve myself. It's not so much what I say, but what I do; I would like to lead by example.”
The softball team finished 11-19 overall this season and 7-9 in the final MIAA standings, good for sixth place. Alma and Tri-State each earned a share of the league title.
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