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Lindsay Lopez Returns To Her Roots At Washington

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(Photo by Washington Athletics)

At 10 years old, Lindsay Lopez joined a softball team with Queen Creek Little League in Queen Creek, Ariz. She always wanted to be a pitcher, but her mother, citing the high price of pitching lessons Lopez would need, chided against the idea. So during her first Little League practice when it was revealed that the team didn’t have any pitchers, Lopez stepped into the circle for the first time.

The coach had everyone try out as a pitcher, and Lopez “automatically had the motion down.” As the catcher caught Lopez’s first pitch of the practice, she flinched at how fast it came in. Motioning over to her mother, the coach, the catcher excitedly said that Lopez “got it down already.”

Following two successful seasons with Arizona State, Lopez transferred to Washington this offseason to play for head coach Heather Tarr. It was an opportunity for more of her family members to watch her play, coupled with the “beautiful” Washington state and chance to play for Tarr. Her mother grew up in Kirkland, Wash., just 15 minutes from the UW campus, and Lopez lived there for a few years, though she doesn’t remember much about it.

“I'm making close relationships with these new girls,” Lopez said. “We had such an amazing team last year, I'm really going to miss them. But I'm excited to see how this team is.”

From that flinch-inducing first pitch, Lopez excelled as a pitcher throughout her youth softball days. It wasn’t until she reached high school, however, that Lopez realized she had the potential to play at the next level. That’s when she began honing her skills, and, with an emphasis on increasing speed, became a top prospect out of the state of Arizona. Along with an increased weight training regimen, Lopez would trade off between weighted balls as a way to increase velocity.

Twice a week, she’d throw the nine-ounce softball as hard as she could before trading it off for a five-ounce ball. It helped her blossom into a four-year starter at Poston Butte High School, where she earned a flurry of awards throughout her career.

“That's where I really started to see improvement,” Lopez said. “That just is where the velocity increased for me in high school.”

Not only did Lopez burst with talent in the circle, notably striking out 194 batters and only walking nine in 127.2 innings during her junior year, but she also finished her high school career with a .513 batting average, .595 OBP and 20 home runs, while driving in 153 runs. The dual-threat player led her high school to the playoffs each season and earned the 2018 Region Offensive Player of the Year honor.

As she chose between Arizona State, New Mexico State, University of the Pacific and BYU, Lopez worked to cap off a four-year span that ended with a 51-19 record, a 1.07 ERA and a total of 711 strikeouts through 452.2 career innings.

But Lopez wanted to compete at the highest level, which is why she chose the Sun Devils. It’s also why she chose Washington out of the transfer portal.

“I also wanted to still support the Pac-12,” Lopez said.

From a different dugout, she’ll vie to return to the NCAA Super Regionals from the Pac-12. The Huskies finished 38-17 last season and were eliminated by Texas in the NCAA Regionals. ASU advanced to supers before falling to Northwestern in three games.

During a bullpen session toward the end of last season, then-ASU head coach Trisha Ford approached Lopez with a question.

“(She) asked me if I'd be interested in playing in the Canada Cup,” Lopez said.

So, two weeks after ASU was bounced from supers, Lopez headed off to play with Triple Crown Colorado, where she competed alongside some of the best players from around college softball, including a few current teammates at Washington.

Tarr coached Team USA, who Lopez and TC Colorado defeated during the tournament. It's that same energy that Lopez hopes to take with her on the field this season at Washington, as she looks to lead the Huskies to a return to postseason glory.

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