Powerful pitcher picks up the Purple Pipe

Lemon cleans up in Ontario fastball championships

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Purple Pipe: Kristina Lemon

Jon Purdy

This week’s Purple Pipe has been awarded to an outstanding athlete whose performance was too stellar to ignore.

Western’s fastball pitcher Kristina Lemon played extraordinarily all season, but it was this weekend’s Ontario Championship tournament that earned her the Pipe.

The second-year medical school student pitched a perfect game against Wilfrid Laurier University in round-robin play and allowed only four hits in the nine-inning contest that brought home the silver medal for her team. Lemon also received the championship game MVP and the tournament’s top pitcher award.

The Gazette caught up with the ace to discuss screwballs, fastballs and smart calls.

How does it feel to win your third medal in as many years since joining the Western fastball team?
It is pretty awesome. Last year was definitely the highlight with the gold, but silver is still pretty good and now I have one of each colour.

How long have you been playing fastball?
I have played for three years at Western and I played for four years in undergrad in the States and for probably 10 years before that. I played at Eckerd College [on a scholarship] in Florida.

What made you decide to be a pitcher?
When I was about eight I played for the first time and back then basically the coach took the best athlete on the team and turned them into a pitcher. I remember my coach asking me at the end of the season, “Do you want to be a pitcher next year?” and I was like, “Sure, okay” and I went to some pitching clinics over the winter and the rest is history.

Does having your dad as the coach cause any kind of conflict?
Not anymore. I have played for my dad for many years now through little league and summer ball. I am used to it now and we have a working relationship where we aren’t father/daughter on the field, we are coach/player.

What does the team do for bonding?
Either Thursday or Friday night, depending on when we have games, we have team dinners that are hosted by the veterans. We have a no drinking policy within 24 hours of games so it is a way for all of us to hang out and not sit at home and wish we were out with the rest of our friends. Our season is so intensive so we spend a lot of time together in the first six weeks so it is hard not to bond on the team bus trips and in hotels.

What is your favourite pitch to throw?
My favourite pitch to throw is the screwball. It is a pitch that is the opposite of a curve ball. A curve ball breaks away from a right-handed batter, a screwball breaks inside to a right-handed batter or away from a left-handed batter.

If any actress could play you in a movie, who would you choose?
[Laughs] I can’t even think of an actress. Let’s go with Jennifer Garner. She always plays the athletic girl.

What is your favourite drink at the bar?
I like long island iced teas.

After you are done at Western, will you continue to play?
I will continue to play in summer ball. There are a few leagues around here that are recreational but still competitive. There are women who play up to 30 or 40 years of age. I am sure me and a few of the girls on the team that are getting to the end of our university careers are talking about playing in the summer for the rest of our lives.

What is the speed of your fastest pitch?
I throw about 65 mph.

Is that faster than most of your competitors?
Yeah. [laughs] I am not sure how to answer that question without sounding cocky.

Do you and your team have any pre-game rituals?
As a team, we always warm up in exactly the same way. At the very end of our warm up we do this diving drill where you dive for balls and everyone is cheering loudly and it gets everyone pumped up for the game. Individually as a pitcher I always do exactly the same thing before I go out on the field and I step on the mound in exactly the same way. It just helps me get into the mental zone.

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