2016 South Carolina Free Agent Tim Lemponen
Interview conducted on 1/17/2016
Who are you playing with in 2016?
Free Agent – email@example.com – looking in the South Carolina area
What positions do you play and what is your best position?
1st, 3rd, and C.
Who is the best softball player you have ever seen play?
In person, I would put Ryan Roppel up there. Definitely the best 3rd basemen I've played with. Allen Dina is up there too, great all around player.
Why do you like the game of softball?
I just love to compete and I love the relationships that develop through the game.
What is your nickname in softball and how did you get it?
T-Smash or just Smash. Started from a league ball team in 2009. One of my team mates did the "Hulk Smash" line right before he went to the plate. I thought it was funny so I said it too. It only ended up sticking with me though.
What is your height and weight?
6'3", 400lbs currently (losing), but I move very well for my size.
Where do you call home?
My heart will always be Cleveland, OH, but I just moved to Greenville, SC.
What's your favorite way to spend an off weekend?
I love to be outdoors hiking or just hanging out with friends. During the season though I take bp on off weekends.
What do you do for a living?
Human Resources Administrator for Integrated Electrical Services.
Did you play sports in High School / College / Pro?
Only Football and Track (Thrower) in high school, I played a lot of sports for the city leagues growing up.
How did you get your start in softball and how did you get to the upper level?
Well I've played softball since I was 7, but my start in men's leagues came when I was 16 and my dad got me playing on one of his teams.
What was the most surprising difference between Conference play and non-Conference play when you made the jump?
I've only played in one conference tournament with then Elk and Elk at the Cincy major in 2012. I would say just the over all ball speed off the bats and the defensive play is the biggest difference.
Is there a player that you would compare your game to?
I've tried to model my game after Howie Krause. He's from the same area so I was able to see him play quite often. I love having the power to hit it out when I need to, but at the same time having control enough to zip one back side when needed as well. I've got a ways to go to get to his level, but I'm working at it each year getting stronger.
What would you say is your career highlight to this point? Maybe one play or game that sticks out to you in particular?
At the Cincy major I hit a pinch hit 3 run walk off home run with a 3-2 count against Blitz/Watanabe to win 26-24. They had just got bumped to A that year after winning B worlds. It was my first tournament with Elk and I remember having crazy butterflies in my gut at the plate.
In your career was there a single person (player/manager/coach) who had the most significant impact on your approach to the game? Why?
Man, this could be a list. I played in Cleveland, so I've been able to have great coaching from a number of guys. People that come to mind would be Rob Whitehouse, Bobby Lawson, Monte Taylor, and Jim English. They have all played at a pretty high level and know a ton about the game.
What advice can you give a young player trying to break into the upper level?
Take bp and lift weights. From my experience in the Carolina's, not many guys seem to take bp, so it's been hard finding a competitive team in this area that wants to put the work in.
What type of batting grip do you use and what ounce bat?
Traditional grip, 27 oz end load.
What do you do in the offseason to prepare for the next softball season?
I do power-lifting programs year round, but the winter I usually ramp it up a bit. Now that I'm in SC, I'm able to take bp outside pretty much year round.
What is your favorite sports team and your favorite sport other than softball?
I love the Indians, Cavs, Browns, and Buckeyes. Other than softball my favorite sport to play is probably basketball.
Do you have any superstitions and if so, what are they?
I'm not superstitious, but I am a little stitious. Nothing out of the ordinary, just the same warm up routine and what I do in the batters box.
What would be your "at bat" music selection?
Tough choice, but something by Twenty-one Pilots right now.
What is the best improvement upper level softball could make?
I just wish there were more teams/players that want to play at the highest level. I don't understand the obsession with winning rings and t-shirts in class D/E. I think there could easily be about 4-5 more C level teams in the Carolina's, but nobody wants to move up.
What is your favorite non-World tournament and why?
Matt Henk Memorial Firefighter's tournament in Mentor, OH. It's a great event that get 30-40 teams in the competitive division. It's mostly just a great local tournament that anyone who's anyone in Northeast OH usually comes out to support.
What is the best softball field/complex you have played at and why?
I love playing at Cherry Park in Rock Hill, SC. Just a really nice complex. Also Berliner in Columbus, OH is a great complex with turf infields.
Where is the best place to eat on the road after a game?
I love going to Rooster's when and if I can find one.
What is the funniest thing you have ever seen on a softball field?
Probably in league ball a few years ago one guy on my team showed up with his jersey on backwards and forgot all his softball stuff. This same guy has also taken a fly ball off the nose and forgotten his glove when he went to the outfield. He's given me lots of good laughs.
Tell us something about you that most would never know about you?
My mom was hoping I would be a girl when she was pregnant, boy was she mistaken. She had 7 boys.