Veteran battery grows together

Sara Groenewegen and Taylor LeMay joined the Gophers in the same season.

Left, junior pitcher Sara Groenewegen throws the ball at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on April 30. Right, senior catcher Taylor LeMay prepares for the start of the inning during the second game of the border battle doubleheader against Wisconsin at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on April 12.

Niti Gupta and Sam Harper, Daily File Photos

Left, junior pitcher Sara Groenewegen throws the ball at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on April 30. Right, senior catcher Taylor LeMay prepares for the start of the inning during the second game of the border battle doubleheader against Wisconsin at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on April 12.

Emily Polglaze

Junior Sara Groenewegen traveled 1,765 miles from home to play for the Gophers. Senior Taylor LeMay hails from the Twin Cities suburbs. 
 
 
Groenewegen was recruited early, while LeMay transferred onto the team late. Groenewegen throws, and LeMay catches. 
 
 
Despite their differences, the pair has developed a special bond over the years. 
 
 
“As a pitcher, I appreciate a good catcher,” Groenewegen said. “With [LeMay], we have a really, really good bond, and it’s on and off the field. That really attributes to our good connection. She has a great softball IQ and has a good feel for the game too.”
 
 
LeMay and Groenewegen had divergent college careers before they started to play for the same team. 
 
 
LeMay committed to play at Concordia University in St. Paul but said she knew during her freshman year it wouldn’t be the best fit for her and didn’t play that season. 
 
 
The Cottage Grove, Minn., native sought a transfer to Minnesota, and she’s been consistently catching for Groenewegen ever since.
 
 
 “Who wouldn’t want to play on a team that was so going to be so competitive and compete for a Big Ten Championship and go to postseason every year?” LeMay said.
 
 
The senior went from practicing only her freshman year to being the primary catcher for the Gophers. She has missed only two games in her three seasons at Minnesota and hasn’t started in just three. 
 
 
Head coach Jessica Allister, a former catcher herself, credits LeMay’s work ethic in her progress behind the plate.  
 
 
“[Groenewegen] is throwing all of her change-ups in the dirt, and lots of them are strikeouts, [LeMay] is blocking them all and getting the outs at first base,” Allister said.
 
 
“[LeMay] takes a lot of pride in that and a lot of pride in the down-and-dirty skills of catching. It’s not glamorous, but it’s important, and she does it well.”
 
 
Groenewegen has created a storied career for herself with the Gophers so far. 
 
 
She’s won the Big Ten Pitcher, Player and Freshman of the Year awards, and she is only the third player in conference history to do so. 
 
 
This season, Groenewegen has thrown three no-hitters, one perfect game and currently holds the best ERA in the Big Ten at 1.51. She is also fourth in the nation for total strikeouts with 268. 
 
 
The two will head into last games together as the season starts to wind down, with the potential to win the team’s third Big Ten Tournament title in the last 20 years. 
 
 
 “We’re going into the end of the season trying [to go] at the pace the game is supposed to be played at,” LeMay said. “[We know] if they put one up, we’re going to put one back. … When you do that, things are going to start falling your way.”