Lauren Blue can play all nine spots on the field. But the mound is where the Mansfield Summit softball team needs her most right now.
Blue has played shortstop, catcher and has been coached on how to step in at first base, should that need ever arise. She has also played outfield, catcher and second base for her select team.
“She is the only player I have ever coached that can play all nine positions on the field,” said Summit head coach Scotty Hale.
“She plays where ever we need her. We needed her to pitch, starting last year, so now she is our pitcher,” Hale said.
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Blue was co-utility player of the year with former teammate Erin Keating last year.
Blue was recruited and signed by Kansas Wesleyan University to play at shortstop, but Hale said she’s totally unselfish when it comes to the needs of the Summit team.
The goal for Blue, regardless of position, is quite simple. One of five seniors, Blue said getting into the playoffs for their first time is the top priority.
“We’ve never been there in our three years,” Blue said. “This year, we’ve gotta go. It’s all or nothing.”
Giving it her all, Blue said she just started pitching in the offseason following her sophomore year.
Having been a catcher, Blue said she made a deal with the other pitchers.
“I always wanted to pitch,” Blue explained, “so I told them to let me pitch to them.”
In the process, Blue received each pitcher’s tips to help build her repertoire and knowledge.
At 5-2, Blue isn’t trying to blow a pitch by batters with speed and said her “go-to” pitch is the screwball. “When it works,” she jokingly added.
“Honestly, my goal is to let them hit pop flies and grounders,” Blue said. “I have a strong defense behind me.”
That opportunity may not have materialized but for an injury to Cheyenne Macias, the pitcher at the time. Macias still pitches on occasion but has returned to the team at first base.
For all the versatility of Blue’s ability to play at every position, she said she’s never asked Hale – nor has he yet suggested – that she try to fulfill the feat in a game.
Only five MLB players have played each position on the field in a single game.
Being in the circle for Summit isn’t the only way Blue is making contributions to the team, though. She’s hitting just over .440, about 40 points higher than last season.
Blue has also already surpassed her home run and RBI totals from last year.
She said her focus is to hit line drives and knock teammates in. Her RBI totals reflect that focus.
That improvement has come with a lot of extra work, mostly with long-time friend Macias, whom Blue has known and played ball with since kindergarten.
Hale said the two routinely stay after practice for extra hitting in the cages.
Add to Blue’s arsenal the benefit of providing senior leadership, and she’s become an instrumental part of the Lady Jags’ potential to snag that elusive playoff appearance this year.
That leadership is demonstrated in her desire to do what’s best for the team.
Asked if she would gravitate to shortstop if she wasn’t pitching, Blue had a typically unselfish perspective.
“I think maybe second,” she said. “Mia (Greenzeig) is a freshman and is really good at short. I’d let her get comfortable at that position, since she’s young.”
Wherever she plays, look for Blue to make the most of the opportunity.