The Early Years
and Emilia Fernandez had two daughters, both of whom grew up on softball
fields. Lisa, the younger, was the one most infected with the
diamond bug. A big kid with broad shoulders, Lisa was making
pitching motions at 4 and by 6 could backhand a ground ball. If it
was raining outside, she turned the living room into a stadium, making
balls out of socks and begging her parents to throw them just out of reach
so she could dive for them. She started playing competitively at 8,
and thinking it was slow-pitch, lobbed the ball to the plate
"No, no, the game is fast-pitch, throw it straight to the
catcher," she was told. And a career was born.
her competitive debut at age 8, Fernandez lost 28-0. "I mean, I
walked the bases loaded. I was hitting people," she says with a
laugh. "I'd never pitched to a batter, never pitched to an
umpire, I'd only pitched to my mom in the back yard. But, this
is a story I tell kids about growing up: I walked 20 in that game.
But in the next game I made sure I only walked 18, and slowly but surely I
developed into the pitcher I am now. Even someone like myself, who
people claim always wins, can lose."
the time Lisa was 11, her mother had stopped catching for her.
Emilia had enjoyed warming up her daughter, using progressively bigger and
better gloves as Lisa improved, then adding a mask, chest pad and shin
guards until she was wearing full catcher's regalia, in her own back yard.
But Lisa's pitches got too fast and too scary, and passed balls were
tearing up the garden. Tony had to take over, then a private
pitching coach took over for him.
from "In the Zone: The World's Best Female Softball Player"
by Michele Kort, Los Angeles Weekly