ASU softball's Lindsay Lopez brings strengthened confidence to the circle

The sophomore has pitched the most innings on the team and sports the lowest ERA at 2.52

Lindsay Lopez pitched only 12.2 innings as a freshman. Confidence eluded her. 

Now a sophomore, Lopez leads ASU's pitching staff with 58.1 innings pitched and holds the team's lowest ERA at 2.52. 

Through a tough offseason, deep conversations with coach Trisha Ford and reading a self-help book for athletes, Lopez has built the confidence and the swagger needed to succeed in a strong Pac-12 conference.

The team, and especially fifth-year senior catcher Maddi Hackbarth, saw Lopez's lack of confidence last year. Maddi Hackbarth worked with Lopez to build her confidence in hitting sessions in practice. She communicated after each pitch to tell her what she saw.

In a hitting practice session at the beginning of the 2021 season, fifth-year senior center fielder Kindra Hackbarth went as far as to tell Lopez to "hit me if you need to," to help Lopez develop her inside pitch.

Fifth-year senior pitcher Cielo Meza also worked closely with Lopez when she was a freshman, coaching and grooming her for a larger role that eventually presented itself.

"Last year I wasn't in the best state mentally; I never really believed in myself," Lopez said. "This year, I worked a lot on my mental side of the game. I have that confidence that every time I get put in that I will be able to fulfill the job that I need to do for my team."

Lopez and Ford's conversations surrounded getting the young pitcher into the proper mental state to survive against Pac-12 competition.

"It started with a conversation with coach Ford and (assistant) coach (Jimmy) Kolaitis, and that's when I found out my confidence was not where I needed it to be," Lopez said. 

Kolaitis recommended a book for Lopez to read: "Mind Gym: An Athlete's Guide to Inner Excellence" by Gary Mack. The book emphasizes the importance of athletes believing in themselves. After reading it, Lopez said it "totally flipped a switch for me."

That flip of the switch has led her to pitch with a much higher velocity and with greatly improved accuracy.

During the offseason, she practiced with heavier softballs before throwing with regulation softballs. This helped her develop strength behind her pitches and gain "three or four miles per hour on her pitches," Ford said in a press conference on Feb. 13.

She has brought her newfound confidence into games all season. On Feb. 13 against Utah, Lopez ended the game by striking out two batters and recording a putout. She got pumped up with Maddi Hackbarth, something the usually stoic Lopez would not do. 

"I think that moment was great," Maddi Hackbarth said. "I think that we saw a lot of fight in her, we saw the fire in her passion that she loves softball."

Lopez brought the fire with her to Los Angeles against UCLA. In a weekend series where little went right, Lopez was one of the few bright spots.

"Coach Ford said, 'You left it all out on the field Lindsay, you played with your heart the most out of all of us,'" Meza said. "She's a competitor, and she's definitely going to be a leader. Not from talking, but on the field. She has this poise that we definitely saw at UCLA."

Lopez saw the most action in the circle in ASU's series against UCLA and produced the best performances across the team's staff. She played in all but one game and recorded a team-best seven strikeouts in the series.

With only three pitchers, Ford will have to rely heavily on Lopez, much like she did against UCLA, when playing the team's Pac-12 schedule. 


 Reach the reporter at drodish@asu.edu and follow @david_rodish on Twitter.

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