Ronning commits to WOU

Kate Ronning, who played a big role of McNary’s 2019 Mountain Valley Conference Championship team, committed to play at Western Oregon University earlier this month (File).

Even though she missed her junior season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, McNary third baseman Kate Ronning has proved throughout her career that she could play at the next level.

After gaining interest from Corban, Southern Oregon and Linfield, the McNary senior ultimately decided on committing to play softball at Western Oregon University (WOU) next season.

Ronning plans on pursuing a degree in elementary education. 

“I’m so excited. It’s so rewarding to be able to get to this point,” Ronning said.

Ronning made the McNary varsity team as a freshman in 2018 and excelled as the starting third baseman, earning an honorable mention all-conference nod after batting .368 with an on-base percentage of .455 in her first season with the Celtics.

Ronning had a bigger impact on the team the following season, batting .466 with 26 runs scored and 22 RBIs. She also tied for the team lead in doubles (11) and helped McNary win the 2019 Mountain Valley Conference title. 

“I can’t even tell you how proud I am of Kate. She has been the jell kid of our team the last two years. I’m so glad that she gets the opportunity to realize her dream,” McNary head coach Kevin Wise said. “She is one of our most consistent players in all areas and I believe she has been the best third baseman in our conference.”

Ronning grew up going to WOU softball camps when she was younger, so she has been familiar with the program for a number of years. 

“I have always wanted to attend somewhere close to home. I really enjoyed my childhood growing up in Keizer and wanted to go to a place that had a small-school community feel to it,” Ronning said. “WOU is a great spot to play softball, but it will also prepare me for the future.”

Ronning feels that playing at McNary has helped prepare her for competing at the college level in a number of different ways.

“McNary is a great program and my confidence has grown a lot from my freshman year,” Ronning said. “My love for the game has also grown so much since becoming part of the team.”

With four straight winning seasons, WOU has become one of the better Division II softball programs in the Northwest. Even though she will be playing with a multitude of talented players, Wise believes that his star third baseman will be able to compete for a key role right when she steps on campus.  

“I know that she can go in and compete right away. If Kate has got a challenge in front of her, she is going to rise to it,” Wise said. “I think she will eventually be one of the better players at that level.”

With the 2021 high school softball season tentatively scheduled to begin this April, Ronning is hoping she will have one last opportunity to put on a Celtics jersey. 

“I just want to go out there and have as much fun as possible with my teammates. We are a talented team, so we are going to get after it and win as much as we can,” Ronning said.

“Kate has basically been a leader since her freshman year. I expect her to be the one that sets the tone with this team. We have such a great senior class that is leaving a legacy during this time,” Wise added.