Kate Deming is officially tired of this consolation stuff.
Bloomington Jefferson has made four consecutive Class 3A state tournament appearances, compiling an 8-4 record in tournament play. Problem is, all of the losses were in the first round, relegating the Jaguars to the consolation bracket. They've shown resiliency each time, bouncing back to win the consolation championship each year. But the fleet center fielder, who has been a mainstay for three of those teams, admits she'd like to get past that first-round jinx.
"It happens every year," Deming said. "I'm very salty about that. We lost to North St. Paul with two outs in the last inning last year. And then we watched [Lakeville South] win it all and we had beaten them by eight runs during the season. We were sitting there watching and saying 'How does this happen?' "
Staff writer Jim Paulsen talked with Deming, a 2014 Class 3A all-state honorable mention selection, on the eve of a spring break trip to Puerto Vallarta.
Q: Have you been to Mexico before?
A: Once, when I was in sixth grade. I got so burnt that I couldn't swim for three days.
Q: Minnesotans don't understand how much more potent that sun can be in Mexico. Sunscreen is your best friend.
A: I know. I really don't like using sunscreen that much, but I'm going to have to use a lot of it.
Q: Do you play any other sports?
A: I play soccer and basketball, too.
Q: Which is your favorite?
A: Softball. I've been playing fast-pitch since I was 6 years old. Most of my friends come from softball.
Q: How prepared are you for this softball season?
A: We're getting close to being ready. We've been playing dome-ball on our club team, which is almost all of the varsity players from last year. And we've been having captains' practices. The last two weeks, we scrimmaged other teams like Lake-ville South, Lakeville North, New Prague and Eagan.
Q: What are your responsibilities as a center fielder?
A: You're the captain of the outfield. You have to cover the entire outfield, from left to right. [Coaches] always tell you that if you can get to a ball, it's yours. Last year I literally ran over our right fielder chasing a ball. She said she was calling it, but I never heard her.
Q: Would you rather get a game-winning hit or rob an opponent of a game-winning hit?
A: Both. I actually did that in the section finals last year against Lakeville North. I put down a suicide bunt for the go-ahead run, and then I robbed one of their players of a game-winning hit in the next inning.
Q: Any softball superstitions?
A: Before taking the field, we find a random stick, put it in the ground and we all touch it when we go out. It's been going on a long time. No one's broken the stick yet. If we did, we'd probably lose.
Q: Whose job is it to find the stick?
A: Emily Carr. She's been on varsity, and she's a captain like me. She's a good stick-finder.
Q: You were recently named as the Athena Award winner for Bloomington Jefferson, which is given to the school's most accomplished female student-athlete. That's a pretty big honor.
A: It's pretty exciting. I didn't know I was even in the running. But once I got the [nomination] packet, everyone was saying that I would win it because no other girls play three sports [laughs].
Q: What is one thing no one knows about Kate Deming?
A: I collect key chains. I have a lot of them. I have one that my grandma gave me from Africa.