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LINCOLN â€“ Dick Ryan knows what a special talent he has in Emily Bouthillette, hence why the Lincoln High softball coach isnâ€™t afraid to spread the word regarding a player that Ryan feels is flying somewhat â€śunder the radar.â€ť
It wasnâ€™t that Ryan felt Bouthillette was unappreciated within the sanctity of the team. As a junior, she burnished her reputation as a cleanup hitter who more than lived up to the aforementioned job description. Serving as the Lionsâ€™ chief offensive threat during last springâ€™s championship-fueled 22-0 campaign, Bouthillette finished first in RBI (30) while tying for the club lead in home runs (three).
Further illustrating just how menacing she was when wielding a bat, Bouthillette hit .388.
In other years, Bouthilletteâ€™s output would have been headline-grabbing material. To illustrate just how deep that noteworthy Lincoln team was, the now senior wound up receiving third-team all-state honors. The previous year as a sophomore, Bouthillette had earned second-team all-state laurels.
As someone who spent several years coaching on the travel-team circuit, Ryan had established plenty of connections with college coaches. One day, he was in the company of Lisa-Ann Wallace, the head softball coach at Bryant University. The pair were already familiar with each other, as Ryanâ€™s daughter, former Mount St. Charles standout Kelly Ryan, was set to finish her college career at Bryant after transferring from Caldwell (N.J.) College (A broken bone in her foot, sustained last December, ruined Kellyâ€™s chance for suiting up for the Bulldogs in 2012).
Sensing that he needed to get some publicity for one of his top players, Dick Ryan mentioned to Wallace that in Bouthillette, he had a player who he thought would be a good fit for a program that is a fledgling Division I participant. The idea of attending the Smithfield campus was something that Bouthillette became even more enthused about following an impromptu moment at the Bryant softball clinic she attended last winter.
â€śAt the beginning of the camp (the Bulldog players) did this dance thing. No one else stepped forward, but I actually joined in and had a lot of fun,â€ť shared Bouthillette.
The bonds between Bouthillette, Wallace and the rest of the Bryant community only strengthened following the light moment. By the time the new school year commenced, Wallace had evaluated and decided that Ryan was indeed correct â€“ Bouthillette would make a fine addition to the Bulldog softball family.
The feeling was overwhelmingly mutual, as Bouthillette expressed a strong desire to remain close to home. Roughly two weeks ago, she gave Wallace a verbal commitment to become part of Bryantâ€™s softball Class of 2013, a move that will become crystallized when the signing period opens next month.
â€śBryant University is very lucky to be getting such an outstanding softball player,â€ť Dick Ryan declared. â€śIâ€™m really excited for Emily. She works very hard on her game and was the ultimate cleanup hitter.â€ť
â€śI didnâ€™t want to go too far away,â€ť Bouthillette claimed earlier this week while sitting next to her mother, Brenda, in a room within the main office at Lincoln High. In the same breath, she mentioned that she had expressed interest in Wheaton College, Providence College and URI.
â€śI was emailing a bunch of coaches,â€ť she noted.
Where Wallace was able to get a firm evaluation of Bouthillette was during the summer months, when the youngster suited up for the New England Phoenix, a Providence-based softball travel squad. Demonstrating just how much sheâ€™s elevated her individual game, Bouthillette is playing under the Phoenixâ€™s â€śgoldâ€ť umbrella this fall. Upon joining the program last year, she was placed on the â€śeliteâ€ť team.
â€śI definitely learned a lot playing on those (Phoenix) teams,â€ť Bouthillette feels. â€śTheyâ€™re trying to help us get into good colleges.â€ť
A shortstop at the high school level, Bouthillette has been informed that sheâ€™ll be shifted to third base at Bryant. Besides excelling at softball at Lincoln, Bouthillette is presently a member of the schoolâ€™s varsity volleyball team after playing field hockey earlier in her high school tenure. Come this winter, sheâ€™ll play basketball.
â€śIâ€™m going to help them win,â€ť Bouthillette proudly stated when asked about joining a Bryant softball program that come next spring will be allowed to compete for NCAA Division I championships.
Truth be told, Bryant was the first and only college on Bouthilletteâ€™s narrowed list. Filling out and mailing just one application was made so much easier following the serious interest Wallace and the Bulldogs showed in this soft-spoken young lady. Getting what can prove to be a strenuous process out of the way sooner rather than later has allowed Bouthillette to head into the final stages of her high school career with a definitive list of goals that include finishing on a high note both academically and on the softball field, where the Lions seek to become the first R.I. Division I team to repeat as champs since Coventry in 2009-10.
â€śDefinitely less stress,â€ť said a smiling Bouthillette.
Added Ryan, â€śI'm looking forward to Emilyâ€™s senior season, which should be very special.â€ť