Baseball: Fesmire set for encore to stellar junior campaign

Baseball: Fesmire set for encore to stellar junior campaign

Ryan Fesmire doesn’t consider himself a good hitter. Maybe that’s because the Erie catcher is only comparing his hitting to his defense.

The Tigers senior isn’t the prototypical beast-sized catcher, but make no mistake, there are few backstops in the state who are more defensively adept.

“I’ve just always been good at defense and I’ve never been really good at hitting the ball,” said Fesmire, who batted a lofty .403 last season. “So I’ve always worked and worked on defense so I can be as good as I can on that, and my hitting is just there.”

Well, Fesmire is a good enough at both aspects of the game that colleges have taken notice. He recently signed with Concordia University, which also is home to former Tigers Kyle Godfrey, a pitcher, and outfielder Taylor Dudley.

As far as Erie coach Harold Simmons is concerned, if Fesmire continues to hit around .400, the player can think whatever he wants about his abilities at the plate. The fifth-year coach does concur, though, that defense is Fesmire’s calling card.

“I think defensively, he’s one of the best catchers in northern Colorado,” Simmons said. “His pop time has been as low as 1.87 (seconds) and balls do not get past him. He does it with footwork and quick hands. He doesn’t have a cannon of an arm, but he throws well and gets rid of it quick.”

Fesmire also handles the staff well. He called the majority of pitches last season, and said the key to calling a good game is “keeping the pitcher happy.”

Erie is now in its third year in Class 4A and is aiming to become an established playoff qualifier. The Tigers missed out last season despite going 11-8 overall and 7-7 in the Tri-Valley League.

They return much of their core, as players such as third baseman Dillon Reider and projected No. 1 pitcher Kyle Leahy return, but the left-handed presence has been zapped from the lineup for three different reasons.

Dudley graduated, leadoff hitter and center fielder Tyler Lee has a torn ACL and Zach Woodruff, a top-of-the-rotation pitcher, transferred to 5A Regis Jesuit. All were left-handed hitters, but Simmons is confident his team can compensate with his bevy of righties (Leahy is a switch hitter).

“I’m excited about it,” Simmons said “We’re excited to get into our league play and see what happens. We missed the playoffs last year after getting a taste of it our first year, and we’re ready to get a taste of it again.”

If the Tigers crack the bracket, you can bet Fesmire will be a large reason why, even if he underestimates his hitting prowess.

“I hope I can hit more doubles this year,” Fesmire said. “I hit a lot of singles last year, but I’m looking to hit with a little more power.”

Follow Paul on Twitter: @PaulWillis21