Following the Newell-Fonda Mustangs' first ever state softball title this past weekend in Fort Dodge, the Pilo-Tribune has selected junior Lauren Devereaux as the Softball Player of the Year.
Devereaux, who was selected as the 1A all-tournament team captain, says that she wasn't always the dominant pitcher that paced the Mustangs this summer.
"In eighth grade or freshman year, no one would have thought that I would be starting on varsity right now," commented Devereaux, who's been playing the sport with passion since first grade. "I had a lot of speed, but no accuracy. I've been working at it consistently. Almost every Sunday since fifth grade, I've gone out and pitched with Coach (Dick) Jungers. Eventually, I started hitting the strike zone a lot more often."
She certainly did. Devereaux's 23 wins and 257 strikeouts this summer were a key factor in the Mustangs' title run, which she lists as her greatest sports accomplishment to date.
"Softball's my favorite sport," expressed Devereaux. "We played a lot of really good teams this year. The type of pitchers we faced in the regular season really helped prepare us for state. It was such an exciting experience. To win it was just amazing. In the beginning of the season we did really good. We kind of hit a little slump in the middle, but towards the tournament we really got our chemistry back and played well. It still hasn't fully set in yet that we won State."
Anyone who's paid attention to the sports pages this summer is familiar with the quality of play shown by Devereaux - or "LD" as her teammates usually call her. With the stats that she put up you would almost assume that she's training year-round, but the All-State star sees herself much like any other small-town Iowa girl.
"I love my family," expressed Devereaux. "I've got an older brother, Robert, who's going to UNI, and my younger brother, Tom, is going to be an 8th grader. I didn't really get picked on that much - being the only girl. We just relax together, I like that. I spend a lot of time hanging out with my friends. Everyone knows everyone else around here, so you get to hang out with a lot of different people."
It should come as no surprise to anyone that knows her, that the four-sport athlete's favorite movies and books are loud and action-packed.
"I really like action movies like Never Back Down and Wanted," said Devereaux. "Right now I'm into this book series called Twilight. It's kind of an action- romance type story about vampires and werewolves. I'm waiting for the fourth one to come out now."
With all of the action in her sports, books, and movies, it makes sense that the rest of her lifestyle is more on the calm side.
"I'm pretty relaxed. Nothing really annoys me, except sometimes my little brother," jokes Devereaux. "My friends and I will hang out on Main Street just lounging in chairs. We used to drive around and scoop the loop a lot, but not so much lately. We'll toss around a football or have water balloon fights. I love going to the lake. I love boating and skiing."
The softball ace lists Math as one of her better subjects in school, but not her favorite. "I would have to say my favorite high-school class is lounge," laughed Devereaux. "It's like study-hall. We've got a room with couches and vending machines that we can all just hang out and talk in. Otherwise, I would have to say the math is at the top of my list."
Lauren plans to continue her softball career in college. She would like to attend an out of state school, she says, and focus on human resources to put to use her friendly nature and people skills, but that's a ways off. She's still got high aspirations for this year.
"We didn't lose anyone from our basketball team that got second in the state last year," stated Devereaux. "Kelly (Johnson) is the only senior on our softball team that we'll lose. Hopefully we'll be able to get two championships this year."
"With softball over now, maybe we can revive the loop too," she laughed.