Garay tops Telegram's 2009 All-Area Softball Team

Lindsay Garay finished her sophomore year at Northwestern High School undefeated as a pitcher, 9-0. She was expected to be one of the Tigers' leaders as a junior, but she never set foot on the field.

Garay Player of Year
Lindsay Garay is the 2009 Superior Telegram Softball Player of the Year. (Jed Carlson/

Lindsay Garay finished her sophomore year at Northwestern High School undefeated as a pitcher, 9-0. She was expected to be one of the Tigers' leaders as a junior, but she never set foot on the field.

Instead, Garay, balancing on crutches, watched her teammates from the sidelines.

"It was kind of humbling I guess," Garay said. "You don't realize how much you miss it until you can't play."

Garay tore the medial meniscus in her left knee during spring conditioning in 2008. It took a week to persuade her the injury was too serious to continue practicing.

On March 31 Garay had surgery to repair the tear and spent the remainder of the 2008 season recovering.


The experience was frustrating for Garay, but she had company in the dugout to make it easier -- teammate Anna Morgan suffered a similar injury in her right knee and was out for the season.

"We vented a lot together," Garay said.

Now a senior, Garay, has played through three sports seasons (volleyball, basketball and softball) without any trouble from her knee.

"You always think about, if you step the wrong way, you're going to re-tear everything," Garay said. "My dad always reminded me to be conscious of even rounding first base or sliding into second. You always have to remember that your knee is weaker than it should be. But when you're playing you kind of forget about that."

She was the starting pitcher in 24 games this year and went 17-7 overall and 10-4 in the Heart of the North Conference. Her pitching kept the Tigers in every game they played, earning her this year's Superior Telegram Softball Player of the Year title.

"Lindsay Garay lives for softball," said Scott Janigo, head coach of the Tigers. "She is a coach's dream player."

Garay is just as passionate about her favorite sport in practice as in games, Janigo said. Her hard work helped her to develop into a dominant pitcher, but she also worked to train her eye at the plate.

For the Tigers this year, Gary had 35 hits in 78 at bats for a .449 average. Her slugging percentage was .769 as she hit eight doubles, one triple and five home runs.


The senior also had 26 RBIs for Northwestern and reached base 47 percent of the time.

"She is a player we won't be able to replace as a senior," Janigo said.

Garay was named the Tigers' MVP this year and was a first-team selection on to the HON All-Conference team. She was also selected to play in the Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association All Star Game and the Northern Stars All Star game.

Next year, Garay will head to the University of Wisconsin-Superior to play for the Yellowjackets. She chose UWS because it is close to home, and she was impressed by the school's elementary education program.

"I'm excited, but I'm a little nervous just because it's college ball -- it's not as easy as high school," Garay said. "It will be fun, though, facing better competition."

Garay has a long history of facing better competition. In fact, one of her strongest softball memories is of her first year playing for the Tigers' 12U team.

Summer softball was just beginning to take hold at Northwestern when Garay was old enough to play. She had four coaches on her 12-year-old team, including Janigo and her father, Dan Garay. The coaches wanted to make sure the girls were challenged, so they had the team travel to the Superior and Duluth area and play up a few levels.

"The class that I went with, we actually played 16U in Superior," Garay said. "And we got killed every game.


"I remember playing against Amanda LeBard and Kalli Kucharyski. It was terrible. We lost like every game."

But that was just the start of summer league play for the Northwestern girls, and Garay thinks the experience helped the Tigers overall. To this day, the young softball players continue to "play up," often facing teams one of two grade levels about their own.

"When you face better pitching, that's how you become a better hitter and just an all-around player as well," Garay said. "A lot of people would rather just play with their age and dominate, but I think Scott (Janigo) wants us to play against better teams. Even if we lose, we're going to play more to their level and not down to our age."

For her part, Garay hopes to continue Northwestern's strong softball tradition by helping the young players dreaming of one day playing for the Tigers in high school.

"She's volunteered countless hours with our youth softball program over the years. She would help at camps and teach kids pitching technique," Janigo said. "She would show up at open gyms and help kids with their practice."

"I like helping with the younger kids at the youth camps," Garay said. "The varsity always has to help at the youth camps the school holds, and I look forward to that. They're fun to goof around with, and they look up to us. It's always nice knowing the little kids see you as a role model."

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