We are winding down our Spring Sports Senior Showcase and we are going to highlight a young lady that showed such talent when she came to Cardinal Ritter that she was dubbed “The Natural.” Yes, we are talking about Annie Kluemper. Annie showed unbelievable talent her freshman year to go along with a high ceiling of possible growth. Some of her feats on the field are stuff of legend. She is always coming up with a clutch hit, a stolen base or a defensive web gem that left her teammates and Raider Nation in awe while knocking the wind out of her opponents.
One of the greatest stories about Annie took place her freshman year when she earned the nickname “The Natural.” The team was playing Guerin Catholic in a battle that saw both team score runs late to change the lead. Guerin hit a home run in the top of the 7th to go up 4-3. The Raiders had the bottom of the line-up due up and Annie was batting third. The call went out, “If Annie Kluemper gets a chance to bat, she ends it with one swing.” The first two runners got on and Guerin played great defense to keep them from scoring and with 2 outs, Annie came to the plate. She ended the game with a 3-run homer that was an absolute bomb over the right field fence for the walk-off win.
Her ability was off the charts, but her kindness and ability to lead took her to the next level. She was always there to help her teammates on and off the field and she was an individual that was always available to help people at school. It is really amazing to understand how she juggled her time around, school, sports, volunteering and finding her calling at her job as a veterinary assistant.
We won’t dwell on the past, but it is definitely a player and a season where for years down the road we will talk about how many records she could have, how many awards he would have won. Luckily, the road doesn’t end here as after many schools to consider, she has decided to continue her softball career at Franklin College.
This is just one story of many, but it shows that Annie never felt the pressure of the moment and if she did, she never showed it. More times than not, she put the team on her back and found a way to win. She broke records and she will have an everlasting effect on her teammates, coaches and this school. This is evident by what the coaches said of her.
Coach Heim said of her, “Annie came to program and did exactly what I knew she would do, make her mark in the sport. I have watched Annie play softball since 12u. At the time I didn’t know she would be attending Cardinal Ritter, but I had my fingers crossed. Annie is determined and hard working. She is never satisfied and is always driven to do better and it shows in her stats and play making. With her knowledge of the game, you can pretty much play her in any position on the field, which in her Freshman and Sophomore year we moved her around a lot. She played 3rd, 2nd, Short, and Outfield, but I really liked when she played Outfield. She would always get a big jump on the balls being hit and with her speed, she covered a lot of ground. She had a cannon for an arm and you would see it when someone tried to tag up. She shared her knowledge and helped everyone to become a better softball player. In her Freshman year she tied the triples record with 8. L ast year she tied the stolen base record with 34. Annie was also the lead off batter and every season had a batting average above .500.”
Here are her career stats.
Annie it wasn’t supposed to end this way. This was supposed to be your last high school season. This season had so much promise and you had worked so hard this off-season to help your team realize that potential. Instead you are left with so many dreams unfulfilled, so many goals not met, and so many memories that never were made.As your high school career is ending it’s a chance for me to look back on your softball career to this point. Mt first memory of you expressing an interest in the game was when you were around 5 years old. I was working with your brother Jake, by throwing him some fly balls to catch. You wanted to join in. So I threw you a ball, but you were mad because I was throwing the ball higher to Jake. You yelled at me to … “throw it higher”! So I did… and I prayed that I wasn’t going to have to explain to your Mom how I was the cause of a fractured bone in your face. But you stood there, put your glove up, and watched it land in the webbing. And I was so relieved! But at that time, I knew you were going to be a special player. You had no fear and wanted to improve. You had a will to get better and that has always shown through.
I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to coach you in from the moment you started playing youth baseball in the local Monrovia little league where your team of all girls battled the boys teams as equals and ended up with a second place finish in the league.
Your first experience with Cardinal Ritter softball was playing on a team with your fellow senior Jessica Bontempo and current teammates Riley Heim and Lauren Beaman. That team was so good that it ended up bringing home the first Softball CYO City Championship to Cardinal Ritter. Your team marched through the regular season and tournament only losing one game the entire season.
Your hard work has enabled you to excel as the lead off batter and center fielder for one of the best travel softball teams in the Midwest. Your Indiana Gators Elite team has won multiple tournaments and has placed highly in many national tournaments. This experience has enabled you to experience many memorable moments like being selected to play in the All-American Softball Game at the Colorado Sparkler Tournament which is one of the largest softball tournaments in the country drawing almost 1000 teams across all age brackets.
While not all of your goals were fulfilled while playing at Cardinal Ritter High School, you certainly will always be remembered. Your teams enjoyed a tremendous amount of success in your 3 years at the school. In your time there, the team complied a 50-23-2 record. The Lady Raiders won the Bishop Chatard Softball Tournament for the first time in 2018.
In 2019 Cardinal Ritter won the Indiana Crossroads Conference for the first time, going a perfect 6-0 in the conference. This accomplishment is no small feat, considering a state champion has emerged from our conference in each of the last 3 years.
On a personal level, your career numbers have been nothing short of phenomenal. You burst onto the scene in your freshman year, delivering a walk-off home run against Guerin Catholic and you haven’t looked back since that time. I’ve listed your career accomplishments below.
- 78 games played … all starts
- A 0.529 career average
- A 0.802 slugging percentage
- 137 hits
- 90 singles
- 26 doubles
- 17 triples
- 4 home runs
- 98 Runs
- 74 stolen bases
- 48 RBIs
- Tied single season record for triples
- Tied single season record for stolen bases
- All Conference – 3 years
- All City – 2 years
- All State – 2 years, 1st team in 2019
I will always be grateful to you for allowing me to coach you. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve loved the personal time we have been able to spend together training and working to get better. I will always cherish those precious moments we got to spend in the barn hitting, not so much for the softball aspects of it, but for the fact we got to talk about so many different things going on in your life.
I’m so excited to see the next chapter in your life as you move on to Franklin College. I’m so grateful that I will get to watch you play for 4 more years, albeit in a different role as your biggest fan. I know you will succeed, because I’ve seen that determination in the 5-year-old version of yourself. I know you are all grown up, but I’m always going to remember you as my little girl.
Coach Kluemper (aka Dad)
Here is a little more about Annie:
Her parents are Scott and Annette Kluemper.
Her future plans are to attend Franklin College, major in Pre-Vet, minor in Psychology and play softball. then after graduating from Franklin, she plans on attending vet school and becoming a licensed veterinarian. In the future she would like to have a family with lots of dogs, travel the world, and eventually open a dog rescue business.
Her most memorable Cardinal Ritter experiences were going to all of the football games, homecomings, prom, senior retreat, hosting an exchange student, winning conference last year and all of the bus rides and inside jokes with Brooke Belloni during her freshman and sophomore year.
What she will miss most is all of herteachers, classmates,and teammates. “But most of all, I will miss all of my best friends and the memories that we created through Cardinal Ritter.”
Annie wanted to say, “Thank you to my team for being the goofiest group of girls and for always bringing positive energy to both practices and games. Special shoutout to Riley Hiem for always keeping me laughing during practices. A huge thank you to Jessica Bontempo for being my go to girl for everything. You are truly my best friend on and off the field. I cannot thank you enough for having my back through everything. Thank you to all of the parents who supported us at every game and for bringing team meal. A huge shoutout to my mom Annette Kluemper, for organizing team meal and for being at every single game. You are my biggest supporter not only in softball, but in life. Another big thank you to Coach Hiem and Coach Price for all of the time and effort they put into the team. We are so thankful for the unwavering belief you have in each of us. Finally, I want to give the biggest thank you to not only Coach Kluemper, but my dad. I am heartbroken that you did not get one last year to coach me, but I am so thankful for all of the years we have spent together in the barn practicing hitting and at the fields. You have never once doubted me on the field even if I was in a hitting slump and went 0-19 (throwback to 12u hahaha). You taught me to fall in love with the game and to always work hard at what I love.”
Thank you Annie!!