By CASEY MUSE JR.
Freshman pitcher Mandy Lorenson is aware of the commitment necessary to be the best.
“I’ve been playing softball my whole life,” Lorenson said. “That’s all I can remember really, playing softball, going to school.”
Lorenson grew up in the Oro Valley area and discovered her love for pitching at a very young age.
“I’ve always been a pitcher,” Lorenson said. “I played a little outfield as well but a couple of summers ago I decided to strictly focus on pitching and I think it has benefited me a lot.”
She’s had a stellar freshman season at PCC, compiling 14 wins and six no-hitters, plus multiple NJCAA pitcher of the week honors.
Winning has always been Lorenson’s thing, however. She attended Ironwood Ridge High School and played varsity softball all four years.
“I remember coach putting me side by side with another freshman pitcher going head to head for a spot,” she said. “It was nerve wracking but I got the spot and lettered four times.”
Her high school team earned two titles during her time there.
“I didn’t really play much my sophomore year because we had a senior pitcher, but we won state,” Lorenson said. “It was really cool learning from the older players and watching their work ethic
Lorenson’s senior season at Ironwood Ridge was her breakout.
“My first opportunity came against Sandra Day O’Connor,” she said. “They were a top-ranked team from Phoenix at the time.”
Her performance was electric.
“I struck out eight of their batters, which doesn’t happen often,” she said. “Then I was able to keep up my performance from there and pitch the final three games of our playoff run on the way to my second state championship.”
Two high school rings build confidence, but Lorenson hasn’t forgotten what got her where she is. She always pays homage to the players before her and to her former coaches.
“The biggest influence I’ve had from previous coaches was from my first club coach, Manny Gomez,” Lorenson said. “He always pushed me to do my best. I played for him for eight years and he remained an important part of my softball career.”
Lorenson has had ties to Pima since she was in middle school and committed to the softball program during that time.
“I met coach Quiroz my seventh-grade year and by ninth grade I gave him my verbal,” she said.
She explained she was always shooting for a Division 1 scholarship, but Pima offered her an opportunity to showcase her skills right away.
“It was a big adjustment coming in here,” she said. “The batters are a lot better at the collegiate level. You have to be locked in for the entire lineup 1-9.”
That’s a marked difference from high school ball. “In high school you could get away with going hard 1-4 or so but every batter is going to be a challenge at this level,” she said.
She knows the importance of details when pitching. “I like throwing my screwball hard and inside on the hands the most,” she said. “I like seeing the batter buckle and chase the pitch.”
“She’s been amazing for us.” Pima softball coach Armando Quiroz said. “She is dealing with the transitional year from high school to college and she has worked hard every day to get better.” Lorenson is majoring in journalism and hopes to experience the other side of the media-athlete relationship someday.
“I started doing journalism in high school and I fell in love with it,” she said. “I could see myself doing something like this, actually.”
She loves every kind of music besides country, and she is big on Netflix. “I just finished watching ‘Friends’ for the second time,” she said. “My favorite character is Joey, he reminds me a lot of myself.”
Lorenson will help lead the Aztecs in the Region I Division I tournament and will lead the Aztec bullpen next season as she continues to follow her dreams.