LINCOLN — Fielding phone calls, requests and inquiries from collegiate softball coaches are nothing new to Mark and Marie Mayer, the parents of Lindsay Mayer, Lincoln High's magnificent junior shortstop.
They actually started during her eighth-grade year; that's when University of South Florida head coach Ken Erikson asked Mark and Marie if they would bring their daughter to the Tampa campus so they could meet.
“We were blown away,” Marie stated as her family relaxed around their Lime Rock home's kitchen table Thursday afternoon. “I mean, here she was, in eighth grade, and to have an experience like that, it was overwhelming.”
Stated Mark: “He gave us a 2 1/2-hour tour of the athletic facilities and the campus, and he actually made her a scholarship offer. He also said it wasn't too early for Lindsay, and us, to start thinking about it.
“He showed us his recruiting board, which was the size of that wall,” he added, pointing to one in the kitchen. “Lindsay's name was at the top, under the (high school) Class of 2013. So was her teammate, Shannon Smith.”
When the Mayers returned home, they spoke with Dave Lotti, head coach of Lindsay's Rhode Island Thunder Gold travel team, one designed to showcase high school players to collegiate coaches and scouts at tournaments nationwide.
“Dave just told us, 'Don't worry. It is too early, and there will be a lot more (schools) to be in touch, I promise you,'” Mark said.
The Mayers indicated it's been a long, arduous road to travel – in more ways than one – but Lindsay has selected where she will further her academic and athletic careers. It will be the University of Virginia-Charlottesville, a member of the highly-touted and extraordinarily competitive Atlantic Coast Conference.
Last September, Lindsay gave head coach Eileen Schmidt a verbal commitment to play shortstop for the Cavaliers, and she will do so on a full scholarship.
“Before the start of my sophomore year, I guess the UVa coach called Bob Rossi, who's the Thunder's College Scout Coordinator, and he asked me to contact Coach Schmidt,” noted Lindsay, who's still just 16 and is anxious to begin her upcoming junior season with the Lions. “She told me she wanted me to come down and visit the campus.
“I drove down with my dad, and I thought it was one of the most beautiful campuses I've ever seen,” she continued. “All of the sports facilities looked brand new, and there was so much history there. It was a beautiful country setting with rolling hills, and the softball stadium was one of the best I've ever seen. In fact, it probably still is.”
Several months later, as her sophomore year was coming to a close, she visited Charlottesville again; this time, she stayed with a current Cavaliers player who showed her what life would be like outside the softball program.
“I still didn't know where I'd go, but Virginia obviously was one of my favorites,” she offered.
Truth be told, dozens of collegiate coaches had watched Lindsay play at those travel-team tourneys, and the inquiries flew in by the dozens.
During her freshman year, the list became longer, and it included Fordham, Virginia Tech, UMass-Amherst, Boston University, Hofstra (where Lotti's daughter Kayleigh trekked after a sterling career at St. Raphael Academy), Tennessee, Georgetown, Stony Brook (N.Y.), George Washington, South Alabama, Indiana, Southern Illinois-Carbondale, Florida Atlantic, the University of Buffalo, Connecticut, Texas Tech and even UCLA.
“There were so many schools interested in her, it was overwhelming,” Marie noted. “Whenever we got back from a travel-team tournament, there were at least two or three more schools who were trying to recruit her.”
Turns out, those coaches know talent when they see it. She started at either second or short as a freshman, and earned second-team All-State laurels. Last spring, as a sophomore, she again started at short (she also pitched) and snagged first-team All-State honors.
The reason: That season, her statistics were staggering. Lindsay led LHS in homers with six, ranked second among all Lions with a .730 slugging percentage and was third with a batting average of .413. She also registered an uncanny fielding percentage of .918, and that was a key in Lincoln capturing the Division I-North championship.
As a pitcher, she closed with a 6-1 record, 1.32 ERA, two saves and 58 strikeouts.
She doesn't pitch for the Thunder Gold, as she does for LHS. That's because she's too valuable at short.
Other colleges jumped on her bandwagon after Lotti asked officials with the Web site, www.topprospects247.com , to feature her as the “Player of the Month” in May 2010. The headline read, “Talent and Mental Toughness is a Recipe for Success.
“It's a site for college coaches to look more into potential recruits,” Lindsay said. “Coach Lotti had told me that I'd be the featured player, and a woman called me to interview me. I was, like, 'Wow!'
“I didn't decide until last September,” she added. “I had just gone to see the Boston University team play Marist at the school's athletic complex. My whole family went up. We were still in the parking lot, and I said, 'I know where I'm going, Dad.'”
Mark Mayer hesitated, then said, “Where?
“When she told me “UVa,” I loved it,” Mark grinned. “I loved the whole campus; it was a beautiful area, and had a terrific athletic department. Everyone I talked to has said it's as close to an Ivy League school as you can get academically.
“We're thrilled for Lindsay,” he added. “We're so proud of her.”
She nevertheless paid a price for it, however.
“She had to decide before the end of September her junior year because the college coaches were putting some pressure on her to choose,” Mark said. “They all knew that so many other schools were interested in her, they wanted to know if they should continue the chase or seek out the next recruit.
“She even had to take her SATs in May of her sophomore year because some of the schools, including Virginia, wanted to know what her approximate scores would be; that way, they'd know what to offer her as a scholarship,” he continued. “To her credit, we hired a pair of tutors to help her, and she had to give up every Saturday afternoon for four months to study.”
Lindsay mustered a score of 1,650; the highest possible is 2,400.
“On those tests, she had to answer questions in subjects she hadn't even been taught yet,” Marie said of her daughter, who currently carries a 4.1 GPA (on a 4.3 scale). “I thought that was fantastic. Last August, it seemed something was going on every day with one school or another calling or contacting her.”
Lindsay explained she's excited about her choice – for a variety of reasons.
“When I called Coach Schmidt, she said she and her staff were jumping up and down doing a happy dance,” blushed Linsday, whose 14-year-old sister, Stacey, plays with her on the Thunder, and should make the Lions' squad as a freshman this spring. “I just started laughing. I know I was recruited as a shortstop because I'm not fast enough to pitch at that level.
“Basically, I chose Virginia because of the amazing competition they have in the ACC, and the overall setting. I got a great feeling about it from the coaches and players. Coach also sent an assistant to see me play a Lincoln High night game against Cumberland last May (at Saylesville Elementary). That impressed me.
“The coaches told me they would rely on me for my bat, and Coach (Schmidt) said I would be likely to start my freshman year because of my ability, and because I was a member of the Rhode Island Thunder Gold since the eighth grade. They said I could handle the pressure, as well as hitting the opposing pitchers.
“There was also high academics, and a lot of other activities other than softball. I also wanted to have a quality football team I could root for, and I knew the baseball team was really good, too.”