“I’ve got big cleats to fill,” joked the Walker Valley senior earlier this week after signing to play softball for her sister, head coach Katie (Rominger) Willingham, at Cleveland State. “I know there have been a lot of my family that have played over the years, plus playing for my sister I feel some pressure to live up to that, but I’m excited to get the opportunity to learn from her.”
“Alex is a very versatile player that can play any position on the field,” commented Coach Willingham, who herself was a standout player at Bradley Central and Lee University. “She can play outfield or come in an play the infield, wherever we need her. It’s always good to have a player like that.”
Rominger has been a two-sport athlete at Walker Valley, playing both softball and volleyball, coincidentally for her cousin Judy (Rominger) Pruett, for the past four years. She is a utility player for the “Feisty Fillies,” who qualified for their third straight Region 3-AAA Tournament this week.
“Alex is a great kid. It’s been a joy to watch her grow up. She’s a hard worker and a great teammate,” proclaimed Walker Valley softball coach Lauren Limburg.
“She always does what she’s asked to do. She’s a great defender and has a strong arm. She’ll do well on the next level,” the coach added. “She’s been a part of our success the last four years, and we will miss her next year.”
The Walker Valley fast-pitch team has gone 107-42 in Rominger’s four years on the squad, plus will open region play Monday in Cookeville.
“The fact Alex has been a part of such a strong, winning program is a big plus,” remarked Coach Willingham. “We like players who are used to winning to bring that attitude and expectation with them.”
Willingham is looking to replace half of her team as she loses nine sophomores off this year’s Lady Cougar squad that finished 21-29 and in sixth place in the TCCAA and NJCAA Region VII standings.
“We’ve got a lot to replace, including some key roles in our lineup,” stated Willingham, who took over as head coach of the Cleveland State program four years ago, after serving five years as an assistant coach with the program. “Alex is my sixth signee so far. We are still looking for a pitcher and we need some middle infield and outfield help.”
“I love being able to bring in local talent. I think it is good for our program and helps build interest in the community,” she assessed. “There are some very good players locally and it’s a big plus to be able to keep them here.”
The Lady Cougars have four Bradley County players on their roster who will be sophomores next season — Meghan Ward, Allison Conley, Baylee Carroll and Tori Roberts, who is Rominger’s cousin.
The daughters of Allen and Angie Rominger also include Meghan, who played for head coach Chris Doan’s Walker Valley teams that finished fourth (2004) and second (2005) in the state before she went on to play for her sister Katie (who was an assistant then) at Cleveland State as well.
The youngest of the three sisters, Alex carries a 3.0 GPA and is looking forward to studying in Cleveland State’s nursing program. “I like the idea of helping people and caring for them when they’re in need,” she remarked.
“The biggest adjustment Alex will have to make is to call me ‘Coach’ instead of sister,” Williningham stated. “There will be double pressure on her because she’s my sister, but she can handle it.”