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Hermantown's Lindsey Erickson chooses Gopher softball offer

Lindsey Erickson plays volleyball in the fall, where she was a setter and weakside hitter for Hermantown, although her speed and compact size undoubtedly could have made her a fantastic soccer player. She plays basketball in the winter, although ...

Lindsey Erickson plays volleyball in the fall, where she was a setter and weakside hitter for Hermantown, although her speed and compact size undoubtedly could have made her a fantastic soccer player. She plays basketball in the winter, although if her dad had outvoted her mom she might have been a hockey star.
But in the springtime, there is no question what Lindsey Erickson is best-suited for -- softball. "Softball is my favorite sport, by far," said Erickson, a 5-foot-5 dynamo whose speed going from home plate to first base, or to chase down fly balls, makes her a natural for softball.
And it is softball that helped Erickson decide where she will go for college, because she has signed a scholarship offer to play softball at the University of Minnesota.
At Hermantown, Erickson is a star pitcher, but when she plays amateur softball in the summertime, and when she heads for the Twin Cities to become a Gopher, she anticipates playing outfield, preferably center field.
"I don't want to pitch," said Erickson. That may seem like an unusual statement for someone who pitched the Hawks into the state softball tournament last spring, where she rang up two spectacular games to hurl them into the championship game where they lost to Maple River.
She knows she probably will pitch again this spring for Hermantown, but her first love is outfield. And hitting. She has explosive speed, and as a left-handed hitter, she often beats out grounders to the left side, which complement her ability to sock line drives all over the field. The combination helped her hit over .500 last year in high school, and she is a constant base-stealing threat.
During Hermantown's softball season last spring, coach Tom Bang said: "I've never coached a better athlete than Lindsey," and added that he knew she was the best center-fielder around, but she was too valuable as a pitcher for him to use her in the outfield.
"Lindsey can pretty much do it all," said Gary Fritch, who coached Erickson on the Esko Ice last summer. "I can't think of a better player, when it comes to being a position player who is the complete package. Lindsey can pretty much do it all. She has an outstanding defensive arm, excellent quickness and great instincts for the game.
"She loves to play outfield. She lives to make diving catches and get up and throw the runner out at the plate. You don't know how good she is in the outfield until someone hits one over her head and she gets a chance to go back and get it. She also can hit and hit with power. I'm sure the Gophers saw that in her, and it's great she is getting a chance to play at that level, because sometimes the northern Minnesota girls get overlooked."
Erickson attended a summer camp at Minnesota, and was impressed enough with the campus facilities to decide that was her top choice for college.
"I looked at UMD, at North Dakota State, St. Cloud, South Dakota and Liberty University out east," Erickson said. "But my top option all along was Minnesota. I went to summer camp down there, and I liked everything I saw down there. The Gopher players were helping at the camp, and I got to know some of them a little, especially Michelle Bennett."
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Bennett is from Hermantown, and is the last northern Minnesota player to make it with the Gophers. Erickson's decision to go to Minnesota has helped ease any anxiety for her senior year of high school.
"It takes a lot of pressure off me," Erickson said. "I had a meeting with the coaches when I went for an official visit this fall, and when they sent me the papers, I signed right away.
"We weren't that great in volleyball this fall," she said. "I was a setter and weakside hitter. In basketball, I play forward. Basketball is probably my weakest sport, because I'm barely 5-5, but I play forward because we don't have a lot of height. But we're 5-0."
The Hawks played at Crosby-Ironton on Tuesday, then face Proctor on Thursday.
On Sundays, however, Erickson slips across the harbor to the University of Wisconsin-Superior, where she assists Roger Plachta, her former coach with the Esko Ice and currently the head coach at UWS. Plachta is always running weekend clinics for young players, so Erickson helps, and in the process she gets to take some swings and keep her batting eye sharp.
Not that it's necessary. It's easy to see why Erickson doesn't want to pitch, because it detracts from her focus on hitting. Last year she had a 13-2 record pitching for Hermantown, which meant she "only" hit .515.

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