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A Tiger at the Series
Tigard High School graduate Heidi Pizer is all smiles as she plays at the Women's College World Series
It always seemed to shine bright when she was on the basketball court or the softball diamond at Tigard High School.
Last week, the whole country got to see that smile.
And they got to see Heidi Pizer have the time of her life.
Pizer, a 2008 Tigard High School graduate and a senior on the Louisiana State University softball team, got to end her scholastic softball career on the grandest stage of them all, playing in the Women's College World Series, which started last Thursday and concluded Wednesday in Oklahoma City.
'It was insane,' Pizer, 22, said on Tuesday. 'It still hasn't hit me. I get chills just talking about it. It's such an amazing feeling.'
That amazing feeling, and World Series appearance, didn't just happen by accident.
'After the Super Regionals (where LSU beat Missouri to earn the World Series bid), Coach Beth (Torina) came up and gave me a hug,' Pizer said. 'I told her 'I've been practicing for this since I was 9.' I worked so hard for this.'
That hard work showed at Tigard High School, where Pizer was a four-year star shortstop for the Tiger softball team in addition to being a top scorer for the Tigard girls basketball team.
After graduating from Tigard, Pizer moved on to play softball at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she had a full-ride scholarship. She was also recruited by LSU while in high school, but the Tigers didn't have a full scholarship to offer her.
In her freshman year at Louisiana Lafayette, Pizer appeared in just eight games for the Cajuns, going 2 for 5 at the plate.
'I wasn't satisfied with my role there,' said Pizer, who was granted her release from the school following her freshman year. 'But I loved Louisiana.'
Soon after, Pizer was contacted by then-LSU coach Yvette Girouard.
'She told me they had a player leave and that they had a full scholarship to offer me,' Pizer said. 'So it really worked out well.'
It certainly did - right from the start.
Pizer's first hits for LSU were a pair of home runs that came in a 15-4 win over Nicholls State in a game played April 14, 2010.
And it seemed like Pizer was all smiles ever since.
'I've been at LSU the past three
years, and I just love it here,' she said. 'It's all so amazing. The athletic programs are so supported by the community. It's just nuts. We have the best equipment and the best coaches. It's the same with academics as well. We just have the best, here.'
And Pizer, who played mostly as first base for the Tigers this year, was hoping to have the best senior season she could have.
LSU, under new coach Torina, got off to a good start to the season. But, Pizer says, the team really took off after it adopted a new theme.
'Our theme was 'You can't beat crazy,'' Pizer said. 'Once we got that mindset, we felt like no one could beat us.'
Pizer certainly seemed to do her part in keeping things crazy - such as her creation of the Rally Phone.
'We were playing at some tournament, and we weren't winning,' she said. 'Our rally tradition prior to that was putting on a rally bow. But we switched that to wearing some sort of rally hat. I didn't realize that it was rally time until Morgan (Russell) said to put something on my head.
'I turned around and tried to find something, but I didn't see anything. In the corner of the dugout, I found an old, rotary dial phone, so I grabbed it and put it on my head.'
LSU finished the 2012 regular season with a 34-22 record, but Pizer says, the team was peaking at the right time as it entered NCAA postseason play.
'We got it all together,' she said.
The Tigers swept through the opening NCAA regional round, getting a 1-0 win over Texas State and then sweeping Texas A and M by scores of 2-0 and 2-1 in games played at College Station, Texas.
That put LSU into the Super Regionals, where it faced ninth-ranked Missouri in a best-of-three series to be played at Columbia, Mo. - with the winning team advancing to play in the World Series.
LSU won the first game of the Super Regionals 6-1 on May 26. But, the next day, Missouri grabbed a 5-1 win in 12 innings, setting up a winner-take-all third game of the series to be played later on May 27. And, it appeared that Missouri would have momentum on its side going into that contest. But LSU would have none of that.
'We all said that there was no way that we weren't going to win,' Pizer said.
And that determination paid off, as the Tigers stormed to a 3-1 victory to earn its first World Series berth since 2004.
'At the regionals, we had a dog pile after we won, and it was awful,' Pizer said. 'So we all made an executive decision that there was going to be no dog pile when we won the Super Regionals. But I think we all just freaked out and went into shock.'
And then, the Tigers were off to the World Series.
'I was so excited for our team,' Pizer said. 'We all wanted it so bad. I was just proud of everyone.'
At a pre-World Series banquet, held for all the teams and World Series staff, one player from each team was chosen to answer a question. Pizer was chosen to represent LSU.
'I was more than happy to do it,' she said. 'They asked me what it meant for our program to be back at the World Series for the first time since 2004. I was hoping they were going to ask me about the Rally Phone.'
LSU opened the eight-team, double-elimination World Series, where each was telecast live by the ESPN network, with a 5-3 loss to top-ranked California in a game played last Thursday.
With the loss, LSU moved on to face South Florida on Saturday, with the losing team seeing its season come to an end.
The Tigers, with Pizer starting at first base, won that game 1-0, getting the winning run in the sixth inning.
'Being on the field was just amazing,' Pizer said. 'I still don't even believe I was there.'
Late in that game, with the teams still locked in a scoreless tie, Pizer wore a pair of tiger ears on her head when she was in the dugout.
'That was a special request from my mom,' Pizer said. 'She gave those to me and asked me to use them as my rally hat. We won, so I guess mother knows best.'
LSU saw its season end later on Saturday when it fell 6-0 to Arizona State.
But that didn't take away anything from Pizer's World Series experience.
'Even though we didn't come out on top, it was just so amazing,' she said. 'I cried once, but it wasn't because I was sad. I cried when I left my cleats on the field at the World Series. I was just so happy. I'm completely satisfied with being done with softball.'
While her college softball days are done, Pizer is very excited about her future, as she's studying to become an elementary school teacher.
'That's something I've been interested in since I took Mrs. Alexander's Child Development class back at Tigard High School,' she said. 'I'm so excited to have my own classroom someday.'
Pizer is planning on graduating from LSU in December. Then, she's looking to move on to attend Florida State University, where she'll study to get her Master's Degree in Education Leadership.
'I want to be an elementary school principal,' she said.
When that happens, there's going to be an elementary school full of kids that will see a principal with a bright smile - a World Series smile.