What's A Softball Heroine To Do?

College senior Danielle Lawrie was just named Women's Softball Player of the Year. She pitches for the University of Washington, and she and her team are expected to win the Softball World Series. Josh Platis of member station KUOW reports on why there are few career options for the best softball pitcher in PAC-10 history.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

For the second year in a row, Danielle Lawrie has been named the nation's best collegiate softball player. Lawrie is a senior, and she's the star pitcher and leader of the University of Washington Huskies. This weekend, she and her team are defending their title as national champions in the NCAA World Series.

Josh Platis from member station KUOW in Seattle has more.

JOSH PLATIS: Danielle Lawrie is the all-time Pac-10 strikeout leader. She's also impressive with the bat. She leads the Huskies in home runs and RBIs. As a pitcher, she's 40-3 this year. One of those losses came in last week's super regional game against the Oklahoma Sooners when Lawrie uncharacteristically gave up five home runs.

Her father, Russell Lawrie, spoke to her after the game.

Mr. RUSSELL LAWRIE: My advice to her and my advice to this team is turn this thing into a street fight. Get down, get dirty and, you know, do whatever it takes, within the rules, of course. Now, they've got to come out and they got to be aggressive.

PLATIS: Lawrie took her dad's advice and the very next night she won both games. As usual, she pitched every inning of a doubleheader to get to this year's World Series.

Art Teal covers sports for the SeattlePI.com.

Mr. ART TEAL (Sportswriter, SeattlePI.com): What makes her so special is that she isn't specialized. She is able to do the most difficult aspect, which is pitch and pitch well and be consistent, and she's such a great athlete she can still be a great hitter. To me, it makes her the most dominant athlete I've seen in her sport and certainly the most dominant athlete I've seen at Washington relative to her peers.

(Soundbite of cheering)

PLATIS: Unlike in baseball, she doesn't stand on a mound. She stands on what's known as the pitcher's circle. She wears a sparkly purple headband and her jet black hair is pulled back into a long ponytail. Before each pitch, she grabs a handful of infield dirt, she wipes it clean on her pants, walks to the middle of the circle, winds up and throws a lightning-fast pitch across the plate.

Lawrie says conversations with her dad inspire her to focus on each throw.

Ms. DANIELLE LAWRIE (Pitcher, Women's Softball Team, University of Washington): He gives me that inner drive to just never leave anything out there and to just absolutely go balls to the wall. You know, I'm going to compete and he told me to battle. And when you have your familys support like that, nothing gets in your mind to stop you.

PLATIS: Lawrie is at the peak of her game. But unlike male baseball players, she has few professional options after graduation.

Ms. LAWRIE: Wouldn't you be mad if you were a girl and you couldn't get the opportunity? Of course.

PLATIS: The difference: her brother, Brett Lawrie, signed up with a double-A team at age 18 with a reported $1.7 million bonus. Now, that hurts.

For NPR News, I'm Josh Platis in Seattle.

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Correction June 9, 2010

In this story we said the University of Washington Huskies were defending their title as national champions in the NCAA World Series that weekend. The story aired on Sunday, but the Huskies had already played on Saturday and been defeated. The 2010 championship was won by UCLA.

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