Danielle Lawrie: The Next Jennie Finch?
If you don't know who Danielle Lawrie is by now, you seriously live in a bubble.
The University of Washington pitcher led her team to the first National Championship in school history, after 16 consecutive years of making of the NCAA Tournament (every year of the program's existence).
The Langley, British Columbia native was the go-to girl on the mound, and Lawrie didn't not disappoint Huskies fans, or softball fans in general.
Jennie Finch did put the sport of softball on the map with her dominance and remains one of the most popular players of all-time to this day.
I love that dominance shown on the mound (Finch/Lawrie), and it helps that Lawrie has 'that look' to keep people intrigued.
There are two things that I find interesting about this Canadian:
1) Can she settle on one hair color? Blond or brunette? Honestly, I don't think it matters though. 2) Who she be more famous than her brother? Brett is a second baseman in the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
Back to Lawrie. She has the ability to keep softball on that map set by Finch with her own dominance, and could surpass Finch's popularity.
Don't believe me?
Let's first take a look at Finch's numbers through her four years at the University of Arizona.
Finch went 119-16 with 64 shutouts and had a 1.07 ERA. She struck out 1,028 batters in 876.2 IP. Her best year was 2001 in which she went a perfect 32-0 with 207 strikeouts.
Finch now plays for the Chicago Bandits of the National Pro Fastpitch softball league, one of five teams in the league. She also had a 36-2 record as a member of Team USA.
Lawrie has played three years for the Huskies and has one more year of eligibility, due to her red-shirting during the 2008 Olympic year to train with the Canadian National Team.
Here's what Lawrie has done so far:
As a freshman, Lawrie went 23-16 with a 1.44 ERA and set a then school record of 387 strikeouts. She pitched 257.2 IP and had a .186 opponent batting average.
Lawrie threw a perfect game on February 26 against Utah Valley State in six innings, where she struck out 15, including 14 consecutive.
She set a school record for strikeouts in a seven inning game with 19 and was named to the All Pac-10 second team.
As a sophomore, Lawrie improved to a 31-13 record with a 1.54 ERA and had 11 shutouts. In 278 innings, she struck out 457 batters, breaking her own school record.
She threw a no-hitter, had six one-hit games and had seven games with 15 or more strikeouts. Lawrie also had two games of 20-plus strikeouts.
She was named to the All Pac-10 first team and had 25 games with double-digit punch outs.
As a junior, Lawrie was named the National Player of the Year, as she guided Washington to the title over a University of Florida team that had lost just three games all year (Gator pitcher Stacey Nelson was 39-3 with a .40 ERA).
Lawrie compiled a 37-7 record (UW was 51-12) with a .84 ERA and threw a no-hitter against UCLA and Arizona, becoming the first pitcher to accomplish that feat. Lawrie had 19 shutouts, including eight versus Top 10 teams and yet again broke her own strike out record with 472.
Lawrie threw 39 complete games and opened the year going 15-0 with a .14 ERA. She went 64.1 consecutive innings being unscored upon and 90 innings without allowing an earned run. She also hit .277 with six homers and 25 RBI.
The Huskies spent three weeks on the road during the 2009 College World Series, and yet Lawrie went 5-1, threw a two-hitter in Game 1 and kept the title in the Pac-10 Conference.
Overall, Lawrie has a 91-36 record with a 1.27 ERA. She has struck out 1,316 batters in 843.2 IP and still has one more year to go.
Lawrie already ranks fifth in the Pac-10 in strikeouts and 15th nationally, way ahead of Finch at 23rd. She can also surpass Finch's win total, needing just 29 in the 2010 season to do so.
It's a shame that softball could be leaving the Olympics for awhile (or possibly, for good) because Lawrie could've done some serious damage.
However, the NPF does allow these women who love the game to play softball well beyond their college years.
Back to the original topic though; can Lawrie be just as famous as Finch?
I can't say that Lawrie will follow the exact footsteps through Pros vs. Joe's, SI's Swimsuit Edition or Celebrity Apprentice, but the opportunity should surely be there for this Canuck.
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