Lester is All-Bristol Herald Courier Softball Player of the Year

July 4, 2009 | RSS



To understand why Lindsey Lester is such a dominant pitcher, just listen to her describe the emotions she felt after her last career game for Richlands High School.


Inning after inning in a Region IV semifinal game last month, the right-handed Lester dominated the Patrick County lineup, scattering four hits and striking out 13, giving the Blue Tornadoes every opportunity to take another step toward a state tournament berth. But, with her own team unable to score, the game went into extra innings, and in the ninth, Patrick County took advantage of two errors to scratch out a 2-0 win.


Lester was understandably devastated. She and her teammates had been trying for four seasons to reach the state tournament. They’d inched a game closer each spring to that goal but never got there.


But she wasn’t demoralized. In fact, Lester was exhilarated by the team’s effort and even more so by her own performance. In the biggest game of her high school career, she’d delivered for her team, doing everything she could to give it a chance to win.


“That probably, even though we lost, was one of my favorite games,” Lester said. “The tension was so high, and it was delayed [by rain] two or three times. There was so much riding on that game. I love big pressure games.”


Lester was one of Southwest Virginia’s top pitchers for four seasons, particularly during the last three. She finished this season with a 0.64 earned-run average, and her 144 strikeouts gave her 548 for her career. She also was extremely productive at the plate, hitting .417 and knocking in 14 runs.


For her efforts during the season, Lester was named this week as the Bristol Herald Courier’s player of the year.


Lester, 17, didn’t start out her softball career as a pitcher. She played both third and first base until the team for which she was playing needed someone to pitch. Her step-dad encouraged her to try it. She did and never looked back. In fact, she said, she’s not comfortable playing in the field except when she’s in the circle.


Lester said she immediately took to pitching because she could set the pace of the game, dictating when and how things happened. The position put a ton of responsibility on her shoulders, and she loved it.


“The critical ingredient to being a good pitcher is that you’ve got to want the pressure on you,” Lester said. “You have to want the ball in big situations.”


That’s when her talent took over. Her arsenal features six pitches, including a screwball that she finally was able to work into her repertoire and used as her strikeout pitch this season.


Lester graduated as one of Richlands’ most well-rounded students. A cheerleader during the football season, she was an outstanding student, heavily involved with DECA (an national association of marketing students) and active in a number of community activities. She was her school’s nominee this spring for the BHC’s Gene “Pappy” Thompson Award.


Lester said she is eager to take her game to the next level. She will play next season at Bluefield College, where she again will be handed the ball and asked to deliver. The Bluefield coaches also have assured her that she also will get regular opportunities to hit.


“I talked to some bigger schools, but I didn‘t want to sit the bench for a couple of years before I got the chance to play,” she said. “I wanted to play right away.”


As ready as she is to start the next phase of her life and her softball career, Lester still expresses a tinge of regret when she’s asked about her high school career. As much as she did for her team, she said, she wonders if she could have done something more to get the Blue Tornadoes into the state tournament.


It’s a hole on her resume she wished she could have filled.


“I’m proud of what we did, but I am not completely content with it,” she said. “We got a game closer [to state] every year, but we just did not get there. I’m proud of the way we came together, but I wanted more. If I was happy with everything, there would be nothing to improve on.”