When Danielle Lawrie leaves the UW athletic program in a few weeks, the pitcher will be remembered not just as the greatest softball athlete in school history but among the best who ever played. If she were a male made famous for performing on diamonds — think Tim Lincecum, the 25-year-old recent Husky phenom who has been the Cy Young-award winner in the National League the past two seasons — she'd immediately move on to the riches and regard available in pro sports.
Women'ês softball obviously doesn'êt offer such opportunities. Even if it did, an obvious gesture, which some believe will eventually happen by fan demand, should be made when Lawrie walks off the field for the last time as a player:
The otherwise nameless place where Lawrie put up numbers that no fiction writer would ever try to pass off as true should be christened Danielle Lawrie Stadium.
Technically, the facility does have a name. It'ês known as Husky Softball Stadium, which is only slightly less generic than a campus parking-lot sign.
Lawrie, of course, was the 2009 NCAA player of the year as a junior, when she led the team to the national championship, pitching every inning of the college world series. Monday (May 10), she broke the Pac-10 single-season record (previously held by someone named Danielle Lawrie) by becoming conference pitcher of the week for the seventh time this year.
Here'ês a rehash from the UW sports-info department:
The senior won the honor for the fifth time in the past six weeks since conference play started. After going 3-0 last week against Stanford, she is now 15-2 with a 0.86 ERA, 197 strikeouts and seven shutouts in 17 appearances in Pac-10 play. In fact, since her last loss at Oregon on April 17, in which she allowed a season-high tying four runs, Lawrie has gone 9-0 with a 0.23 ERA, allowing just two runs in 61 innings while striking out 109 batters.
Lawrie's three victories over the weekend helped UW win its first conference title since 2000. She fired two shutouts in the three games, including her fourth no-hitter of the season. She allowed just one run and six hits in 20 innings pitched, with the lone run of the weekend coming on a solo home run off the bat of USA National Team player Ashley Hansen. Lawrie struck out at least 10 in each game and walked just three combined all weekend as she moved just 11 strikeouts shy of Alicia Hollowell's Pac-10 career record.
She's also hitting .302 with 11 home runs and 43 runs batted in. That's with fewer at-bats than the league leaders in the categories.
Is that any good?
A source within the athletic department who is close to the team told me Monday that there has been increasing talk of naming the stadium for Lawrie. The same source told me last winter that she wasn't sure if Lawrie's the best ever at what she does but estimated she was certainly in the top five.
By now there can't be many out there who don't believe she's the best who ever played the game. Colleges usually have rules about waiting times before athletes are mentioned for institution-wide hall-of-fame honors. Lawrie is a certain school hall-of-famer but she'ês much better than that.
Obviously UW officials should wait until the Huskies (who play their final regular-season games later this week in Arizona before commencing the playoffs) finish the current season before formally bidding goodbye to Danielle Lawrie. At that time they ought to bid hello to Danielle Lawrie Stadium.