Posted By Press Democrat Staff Writer Michael Coit:
For the second time this season, Sonoma State softball ace Samanthat Lipperd has been named National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division II Pitcher of the Week.
Lipperd earned all three wins as Sonoma State took its second consecutive California Collegiate Athletic Association softball tournament championship. Capping the great performance, Lipperd tossed a no-hitter in the championship game against UC San Diego.
On the season, Lipperd is 25-8 record with a 1.10 ERA. The conference leader with 310 strikeouts, fourth most in all of Division II, she broke the Sonoma State single-season strikeouts record earlier this year.
Sonoma State ended the regular season 36-20 and awaits word on seeding and location for one of two NCAA Division II West Sub-Regionals May 13-15.
Press Democrat columnist Bob Padecky wrote about Lipperd in April
The softball dips and darts and slides, and it gets there in a hurry.
There’s not a lot of down-time with Samantha Lipperd’s pitches, made all the more noticeable that none of them seem to go straight. Trying to hit her is like catching a butterfly with a soup can. You can, but you’ll look uncoordinated and lucky doing it.
All of which leads to an obvious question that I lob to her SSU coach, Jennifer Bridges, and Bridges hits it out of the park. “What’s her upside?”
I asked Bridges of her sophomore pitcher.
“It’s huge,” Bridges said. “She gets better every day.
Next year she will be the scariest pitcher in the conference. Before she graduates, Sam will wipe out every pitching record we have here at SSU. She definitely will be an All-American by her senior year.”
Standing just a few feet along the right-field foul line at SSU’s softball field, Lipperd shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot.
She blushed, she pawed at the ground with her feet, she looked skyward, possibly for an escape through a heavenly trapdoor.
“I’m flattered (at what Bridges said),” Lipperd said. “I want to work hard to be that pitcher she thinks I can be, the pitcher that can carry the team. I want to be the pitcher they can depend on.” Numbers in sports can be used to deceive, delude or even discourage. Lipperd’s season numbers, however. are totally transparent, not a trick or an illusion anywhere: 22-8 won-loss record, 289 strikeouts in 192 innings, a 1.14 earned-run average. Only a sophomore and with the conference tournament still to come, Lipperd already owns three significant SSU pitching records: Most strikeouts in a season, most strikeouts in a career (431) and most victories in a season.
All of this sprung from a very humble beginning: Her eighth grade coach in the Santa Cruz mountain town of Boulder asked her to pitch one day. Just for the heck of it. And just for the heck of it, she kept on pitching and pitching and five years later she visited the SSU campus on a whim and fell in love.
The opponent that could give her the most trouble now is not someone walking up to the plate holding a bat. It’s losing the intensity because she is so dominant — she has thrown three no-hitters at SSU. Bridges offered a story in response.
“We’re at an airport and I have my back to the team,” Bridges said. “They’re playing cards. All of a sudden I hear someone yelling and fussing about losing a hand. I didn’t even have to turn around to know who it is. That’s what a true athlete is. Competitive.
And Sam is competitive at everything. You can see her face if someone gets a hit off her. She is really angry.”
When asked if she would ever be tempted to back off the throttle, Lipperd looked as if she just swallowed a snail.
“That’s one of my goals, never to be that kind of person,” Lipperd said. “I want to be the best.”
Listening to Lipperd, Bridges would shoot glances at her pitcher from time to time. Hearing the words that she had assumed, watching the body language that showed confidence, Bridges is well aware that Samantha Lipperd will make her one heck of a coach.
“To know I have her for two more years, that she’s only going to give up one run a game, if any . . . ” Bridges said.
That’s a lot of nights Bridges can go to sleep before a game relaxed, content, quite aware that the next day so many other women will be feeling quite the opposite as they try to catch a butterfly with a soup can.
For more North Bay sports, go to Bob Padecky’s blog at padecky.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist at 521-5223 or firstname.lastname@example.org.