If Mindy Lorimor, a four-sport varsity athlete at Fremont-Mills, had to list what sport was her favorite, she'd list them as follows:
“I like basketball and volleyball, too,” Lorimor conceded later. Much later.
With the kind of success the Fremont-Mills junior has had on the diamond since bursting on the scene as a gangly eighth grader with a rocket arm, it's hard to argue with her list.
“I obviously focus the most on softball but I do like other sports a lot too, they keep me busy, which I like, but softball is definitely my favorite,” she said. “I like how it keeps me competitive, the enjoyment I get from it, the people I met and the travel.”
Lorimor is The Opinion-Tribune's 2009-2010 Mills County Female Athlete of the Year.
She first took up the game in T-ball as a kindergartner and moved on to softball in second grade. She first stepped into the circle as a fifth grader. With some work Lorimor took to pitching almost immediately. Mom, Leonetta, was her first pitching coach.
“My mom started practicing with me by myself and then we found a pitching coach. We found that it did come kind of natural to me so we kept on with it and I kept progressing.”
Since she was 11, Lorimor has had a private pitching coach.
For the last two years that coach has been Jerrad Hardin, a former coach at Council Bluffs Lewis Central and a trainer at The Next Level, a softball and baseball training academy in Council Bluffs. Three days a week Lorimor makes the trip to see Hardin and work on her mechanics and overall game.
“I felt like I've improved a lot in the last year,” she said. “He changed me a little bit (mechanically) but he's also helped me pick up speed and make my pitches break a little more.”
Lorimor's fastball was clocked recently at 63 MPH.
“The week before I was throwing 58. He gave me three drills to work on and a week later I was throwing 63,” she said.
To go with her blistering fastball, Lorimor's arsenal includes five other pitches: a change up, a curve ball, a rise ball, a drop ball and a screwball. But she considers her curve ball, screwball and rise ball as her “go to” pitches.
Lorimor lives and breaths softball – she drives a yellow Volkswagen Beetle, painted with stitches to resemble a softball, and license plates that read “LVSFTBL.” Including her sterling work for the Knights' softball team, Lorimor plays nearly year round, or about 100 games a year, including her play in Omaha's select leagues. Next season she'll play for the Frozen Ropes club team, a prestigious Ralston, Neb. based program that recently won the World Series in Kansas City.
“The coach asked my dad if he could talk to me and I went and threw for him and he asked me right then if I would play for them,” she said. “They wanted an answer right then but my mom wanted me to sleep on it, but I said yes the next day, it was a no-brainer.”
Every facet of Lorimor’s game has improved each season on the diamond. She fanned 217 as an eighth grader and 334 this past season. In 114 career starts she is 90-24 in the circle with 0.77 earned run average. Her career strikeout total of 1,165 is a school record. After batting just .278 with three extra base hits as an eighth grader, Lorimor led the Knights with a .472 average and five home runs this past season.
Lorimor credits most of that competitive drive to good DNA. Leonetta was a five-year starter in the outfield for the Knights’ in the 1970s and Dad, Matthew, is a former Knight football and basketball player. Brothers Marcus and Matt were both four-sport athletes at Fremont-Mills.
“They were all into sports so I think I take a lot after them. My parents have always pushed me to do what I like and I like to compete and be the best,” she said. “We used to play a lot of pick ups games and stuff and when I started pitching my brother’s would like to try and hit off me or catch for me.”
So can big brother’s Matt and Marcus hit off little sis?
“I don’t know about today, they think they can,” said Lorimor. “Two years ago the whole baseball team thought they could hit off me and just two of them did.
“They always think baseball is a lot harder but what they don’t realize is when you’re only 43 feet away and 38 feet when you release the ball, it’s a lot harder.”
Lorimor’s freshman year, the Knights’ qualified for state for the first time since 1970. But the last two years the Knights have come up short in districts, losing a 5-1 to Treynor in this year’s district final.
“I was very upset we didn’t make state (this year),” said Lorimor. “But going into the year I didn’t think we’d make it that far because we had such a young team and a bunch of players with not much experience. Before the year started I was looking forward to it but I just knew there would be some ups and downs. Making it that far, I was pretty happy, but I would have been a lot happy to go further.”
Next season the Knights look to return to state and will be the overwhelming favorite to win their third straight Corner Conference title. The Knights don’t lose a single player off their 26-10 squad and will have a hungry Lorimor in the circle who knows this is her last shot at state.
“We have everybody coming back so all we can do is improve. Hopefully next year we can make it back,” she said.
As stat laden as the junior’s career has been Lorimor hardly has time to look at her own accomplishments. She wasn’t even aware she was approaching 1,000 career strikeouts until she was just a few shy of the milestone.
“My Dad told me just before the game. We had figured out if I got my average I should get it,” said Lorimor. “My Mom baked cookies and was planning a little celebration when I got but then it was a three-inning game so I didn’t get it that night.”
Lorimor eventually did surpass the 1,000 swing-and-miss mark, in a 4-0 loss to Shenandoah on June 21. She currently has 1,165 in her career. with a full season ahead of her
“A strikeout is probably the best feeling,” she said. “Other than a perfect game, strikeouts are always the best feeling.”
Lorimor would know.