Last Wednesday, the St. James softball program welcomed a professional softball player to their practice.

Coley Ries, a professional fastball softball pitcher for the Aussie Peppers, who play in Mankato, visited the Saints for a day of practice, providing some tips and taking in the atmosphere at the Fairgrounds.

Prior to playing for the Peppers, Ries played professionally for the Texas Charge and Chicago Bandits.

Ries played high school softball at Mankato East High School, before becoming a star pitcher for Minnesota State- Mankato, guiding the Mavs to a national championship in her senior season.

Ries provided a glimpse of her winding journey to the professional leagues, starting with playing with a developmental softball team, to being the only Division-II player in National Pro Fastpitch.

Ries hopes to serve as an advocate for professional women’s sports.

“We have guys in the NBA and MLB to look up to, but we want more women to be an inspiration,” said Ries.

Ries also rallied the St. James Area softball team prior to state, hoping to instill the belief that the #3 seeded Saints in the 3AA South bracket can go on a run, similar to a season ago.

To advance to the section final, the Saints will likely have to go through #1 seeded Pipestone, who sits at 17-2 and ran the table in the Big South Conference. The #2 seed above the Saints is fellow conference foe Luverne (15-4), who edged the Saints 4-0 and 3-2 on May 11th.

At the end of the practice, Ries provided a pitching demonstration, firing in a variety of pitches to the amusement and amazement of the Saints and a handful of parents who came to watch the display.