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Raymer twins set to play at St. Mary's

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By Mike Farner

 MOUNT WASHINGTON – The idea at first was not for twins Morgan and Kayla Raymer to attend the same college and play on the same softball team.

     It just worked out that way.

     That is did recently when the pair both declared that they would play softball starting in the fall of 2014 at Saint Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana. The Belles are a Division III school that is associated with Notre Dame University. It is an all-female school.

     As is often the case now in the recruiting process, it was the Raymers that first made contact with the school. An email got the ball rolling, but it wasn’t so much about softball. The email was inquiring about Morgan and her desire to continue her ROTC work. When it was discovered that Morgan could be part of the ROTC program at Notre Dame while attending St. Mary’s, it got the ball rolling and eventually softball came in to the picture.

     That also brought Kayla into the discussion.

     The two made an official visit to the northern Indiana school back in October during Fall Break and they made a final decision in January. It was just a few weeks ago that the twins held a ceremony in the Bullitt East Media Center to make the announcement and share the news with coaches, teammates and friends.

     As it turned out, St. Mary’s was the only school that Morgan really considered. Kayla said that she was also looking at a school in West Virginia as well as Georgetown and Union, but they didn’t offer what she saw at St. Mary’s.

     St. Mary’s has a new head coach this season, Kelli Zache, and she came and watched the twins play in the fall as well as for their summer traveling team, the Louisville Stunners.

     At the signing ceremony, Morgan was sporting red hair to her sisters’ blonde looks. Morgan is the pitcher for the Lady Chargers while her sister is playing shortstop this spring.

     At times in the past, the two have been a battery, with Kayla doing the catching for various travel teams through the years. However, they have not done that at Bullitt East for various reasons. A year ago, Lady Charger head coach Ricky Hoffman had Kayla penciled in as the team’s number one catcher when suffered a foot injury a week before the season started. The job fell to Kelsey Gravens and she turned into one of the best catcher’s in the area last spring.

     When Kayla did return to play late in the season, she was at first base.

     So, Gravens will do the catching this season, but Hoffman will let Kayla catch a few games. The main job for Kayla will be at shortstop. In the past, she has played at both third base and first base.

     Morgan is one of the state’s best pitchers, having posted a 29-5 record last season with an ERA of .885 (less than one run for ever seven innings). Last season, Morgan had 282 strike-outs to only 31 walks.

     At the plate, the pair are a powerful force, although, at this point, Hoffman is putting Gravens between the sisters in the middle of the batting order this spring. Morgan batted .429 last season with eight home runs and 38 RBI.

     Kayla batted .443 at a sophomore and has a .379 career average after having limited plate appearances as a junior.

     Both of the sisters said that St. Mary’s is looking at the two as a pitcher/catcher combination.

     The two 18-year olds are the only children of Karen and Larry Raymer. At this point, Kayla wants to major in nursing with the hope of working with children in ICU situations. Morgan hopes to combine her ROTC work with a major in Communication Disorders, working with those with speech and hearing problems.

     Softball for the sisters started in the Mount Washington Youth League and continued until they were 10-year olds. They then played for a number of the top travel teams in the area before hooking up with Bullitt East. The two were in the program as seventh-graders and were with the varsity when Hoffman took over when they were eighth-graders.

     Each of the sisters has goals for the spring.

     “I’m actually working to be Miss Softball and be the number pitcher in the city,” Morgan said. “I think we can go all the way.”

     “My goal is to get back where I was,” Kayla said getting her form back after the foot injury. “I’m not too far from it. I want to go back to state and win it.”

     The sisters also pointed out the support they have gotten from their grandparents who watch many of the games. Margaret and Larry Raymer were at the signing ceremony along with grandmother Nancy Almony.

     Hoffman let the girls do most of the contact work when it came to colleges. The coach admitted that at first he was under the impression that the sisters would pick separate schools, but wasn’t surprised when they decided to stick together.

     Part of the decision to stay together may have come from Zache as she contacted Hoffman for information on his players and said that she definitely wanted both of them.

     “Their work ethic is so good,” Hoffman said of the sisters. “They put in the extra effort. It works for them that they can go and pitch and catch together. Just the mindset of their work ethic will help them succeed in softball.”