Senior softball catcher/utility player Desiree Moreno started in all 23 games for the Lions this year, hitting .355 with 22 total hits. Asst. Sports Editor Ellie Kinney talked to Moreno about the team’s record-breaking season, which featured back-to-back upsets against No. 4 LSU and No. 13 Michigan and historic numbers for her teammate and junior catcher Molly Grumbo, as well as Moreno's reflections on being the only senior on the team.
Ellie Kinney (E.K.): Your season was cut short, but you made history in a really short amount of time. Can you talk to me about what this year was like for you and the team?
Desiree Moreno (D.M.): At the start of it, being the only senior, I was going into it sad knowing it was going to come to an end eventually. We have 25 girls on our team, so it kind of took a minute for us to really gel together, but especially when we played LSU we really came together as a team, and I think that was really the point where I felt like this was going to be a really great season. When it got cut short it was so heartbreaking, because it was around the time when things were on the rise.
E.K.: Can you walk me through those upsets against LSU and Michigan?
D.M.: From the beginning [of the season] we had our schedule; we knew we were going to play LSU, an SEC [Southeastern Conference] top program. Going into the game there were all these announcements about LSU and how they were the No. 4 team in the country and how their pitcher had just thrown a perfect game or something like that. Our sport psychologist [Dr. William Parham] in the weeks leading up to it really helped us not focus on who they are and just playing it like any other game. It’s easy to say that, but he really helped us truly buy into that and believe it.
So when the day came and we played [LSU], after the first inning [starting pitcher Linnay Wilson] was able to get them out and we all kind of thought, “Okay yeah, we can definitely compete with them. They’re nothing special.” We kind of just took that mindset into the whole game. As soon as the last out was made, everyone was kind of like, “Holy —, we just beat LSU.” We called our sport psychologist right away, as soon as we got on the bus, because we were so excited to tell him. He told us to take 15 minutes, celebrate this win, and then come back tomorrow and have the exact same mindset against Michigan, and so that’s what we did … it was awesome.
E.K.: Your teammate Molly Grumbo put up some amazing stats this year. What kind of growth have you seen from her?
D.M.: She finished the season with these crazy stats, and it was awesome. Last year was my first year at LMU, and Molly was already a leader. She was a sophomore, and we were both catchers so I spent a lot of time with her in the bullpen, and she really took me under her wing and really helped guide me through my first year at LMU. This year I was the only senior, but she still had that leadership role, so me and her were kind of the leaders of the team going into the season. We got so close throughout this year — I think it was the fact that we had so many girls, and we were trying to plan these team bondings, and so we became closer. I know Molly’s passion for the game, she loves this game so much … seeing all her accomplishments throughout the season was no surprise because I could see all the hard work she was putting in.
E.K.: Are there any other players you want to shout out that really made an impact this season?
D.M.: A freshman, Page Mindedahl, didn’t play much but she had a huge impact on the team. We’d show up for practice and she was always the loudest one and would just give it her all, all the time. She always spoke up when things needed to be said. Her role was mostly to pinch run, and so during games she’d have her helmet on, right next to Coach Sami ready to go. She always looked happy to be there, and I know she was.
E.K.: You’ve touched on it a little bit, but can you talk about what it was like being the only senior on the team?
D.M.: That’s not how I thought I was going to go into it … at the beginning of the year we had a grad student who was supposed to graduate with me, and she ended up hurting her shoulder, so then all of a sudden I was by myself. At first I was like, “This is kind of sad, I don’t have a graduating class,” but I kind of just fell into that role of being the only senior. People were looking up to me and always coming to me for questions and advice, and I realized that my role was to be that senior leader. Once the season came along, I was like, “You know, this is alright, because Senior Day, it’ll be Des Day, it’ll be good.” It was kind of bittersweet, but then I actually started to like it.
E.K.: Because of the shortened season you’re getting one more year of eligibility; do you plan on using that and coming back?
D.M.: I really hope so. The heads of the department are still trying to figure out numbers, but I’ve talked to Coach Sami a bunch and she wants me back, and I want to come back, so if everything lines up and I have the opportunity to, I definitely will.