Lindbergh softball standout signs letter of intent to Western Carolina

McDonagh also a standout in the classroom with 4.1 GPA

By STEPHEN GLOVER

In high-school softball, a good pitcher can make or break a team.

Lindbergh pitcher Lilly McDonagh has been one of the keys to the Flyers’ success over the past four years. She helped lead the Flyers to a cumulative record of 76-39 with a trip to the Class 4 championship game in 2003 and the Class 4 quarterfinal in 2004. McDonagh signed a national letter of intent Friday to attend Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C.

“Obviously in softball, the game begins and ends in the pitching circle,” Lindbergh head coach Darin Scott said. “We’ve been blessed these past couple of years at Lindbergh with some good pitching. Last year, we could compete with anyone in the state because we had Lilly on the mound.”

McDonagh was 12-8 overall last year with a 1.49 earned-run average. She struck out 199 batters and walked 34 in 136.3 innings.

“Lilly coming into our program as a freshman was our No. 2 pitcher behind a really nice pitcher in Sarah Dooley,” Scott said. “She could have easily been the No. 1 starter at a lot of high schools in the area.”

As a junior, McDonagh worked her way to a record of 15-8 with a 1.83 earned-run average. She walked just 41 batters and struck out 201 in 141.7 innings.

McDonagh posted those statistics despite suffering a torn glenoidal labrum the summer before her junior season. She pitched her entire junior season with the injury before undergoing off-season surgery to repair the tear.

“The rehab actually took about six months,” McDonagh said. “I never thought I would throw again because it hurt so bad.”

McDonagh would have to mentally prepare herself to essentially block out the pain during a game.

“I knew that I had to be mentally tough for it,” she said. “I would try to block the pain out of my head. I really wanted the team to go far, so I tried as hard as I could when I was out there.”

Scott always has been impressed with her accomplishments on the field, but it was her perseverance throughout her injury and during the recovery/rehab process that caught his attention the most.

“For her to come back and work as hard as she did, we couldn’t have been more proud of her,” Scott said. “The icing on the cake was for her to sign with a Division I school in Western Carolina.”

McDonagh also is a standout in the classroom with a 4.1 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale and is a member of the National Honor Society.

The daughter of George and Karen McDonagh, she volunteers with the Special Olympics and is a member of the Character Council, the L Club and Renaissance.

She plans on majoring in biology at Western Carolina with the hopes of entering dental school after graduation.

She chose Western Carolina due to its location and the fact that Catamounts head coach Christine Hornak is a St. Louis native, which led to an immediate connection between coach and player.

“Coach Hornak is actually from St. Louis and her dad was coming to the Lindbergh games,” McDonagh said. “I wanted to go to school far away and I felt really comfortable with her. This is her first season, so she’s going to be building the program from the ground up.”