There’s never been a doubt in Kyle Fichter’s mind his star pitcher, Mindy Lorimor was Division I softball material.
Last Wednesday, Fichter’s prediction came to fruition as the Fremont-Mills senior pitcher inked a letter-of-intent to play softball for South Dakota State.
“I knew since the eighth grade this was her goal and I knew she’d get there,” said Fichter, who has coached Lorimor her entire varsity career. “There was never a doubt. The question was really ‘What school would be the best fit?’”
That fit turned out to be the the Division I Jackrabbits who play in the nine-team Summit League.
“I went and visited, watched practice and talked to the coaches and it felt like the right fit for me,” said Lorimor after her letter-of-intent signing.
Lorimor considered offers from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and the University of California-Riverside before deciding on the Jackrabbits. She is the Knights’ first Division I signee in any sport since the 1960s.
“I’ve always liked to think (Division I) was a possibility but there’s always a thought that maybe you can’t make it but I knew I could,” she said. “But it takes a lot of work and you’re never sure but I was determined to make it a dream and make it come true.”
Third-year South Dakota State head coach Joanna Lane hadn’t even seen Lorimor pitch in a live game before offering a scholarship. A highlight video of Lorimor’s exploits, mostly with her club team, Frozen Ropes Fury, and word of mouth from a showcase tournament in San Diego got the Jackrabbits interested. A visit by pitching coach Cayte Billman to watch Lorimor practice sealed the deal with a offer a few weeks later.
“They called and said they had a spot and wanted me to play for them,” she said. “I think I waited two days and told them I had decided to come there.”
Lorimor is relieved to have the decision process done.
“I was stressing this time last year,” she said. “Senior year comes along and its supposed to be stress free but with all the scholarships and applications you have to fill out, its not. So this is weight off my shoulders.”
Knight softball had fallen on hard times prior to Lorimor’s arrival. The Knights went 17 consecutive seasons without a winning record between 1990 and Lorimor’s eighth grade year in 2007.
“There were a few years where we couldn’t field a team. We had to ask girls to come out just to have enough,” said Fichter. “There were a few years there before she got in high school that we didn’t even win a game.”
Lorimor estimates she’s played between 120 and 130 game a season for the last four years between the high school and club seasons. With five reliable pitches and a fastball that’s hit 63 MPH, Lorimor will surely be missed on the diamond. But it’s off the diamond that the 3.92 student who ranks fourth in her class of 37 that might be missed the most.
“It’s going to be hard to see her go, that’s obvious because she makes me look pretty good,” said Fichter. “But what she’s done for the program, and I don’t think she realizes it yet, with just the impact on younger girls who want to start taking pitching lessons but coaches won’t take them because they’re too young. There’s so much interest because of what she’s done and what she’s helped the team do.”
Without yet pitching a game in her senior season, Lorimor already has nearly ever school softball record including career wins (90) and strikeouts (1,165). In 114 career appearances covering 712 innings in the circle she’s allowed a grand total of 79 earned runs for a career earned run average of 0.77.
Oh, and just for good measure, Lorimor is a career .394 hitter who has driven in 61 runs over the last two seasons.
For Fichter no game stands out in his mind more of just how dominant Lorimor has been than when she struck out all 21 batters she faced in a win over Farragut last season.
“I didn’t even know what was going on. I’m so used to watching her pitch, I didn’t realize it was happening,” Fichter said. “Everything she does stands out. Her demeanor, the way she treats the younger kids. She’s a good leader.”
Lorimor’s looking forward to college and suiting up for the Jackrabbits but she’s just as excited about pitching her senior season for the Knights, who are coming off a 26-10 season that ended two wins short of the state tournament.
“I really want to go to state one last time,” she said.