By Rhiannon Potkey
The sessions were only supposed to last 30 minutes. But the little girl in the cheetah print batting helmet never wanted to leave.
She’d spend 30 minutes hitting off the tee in the batting cage and then stay an extra 30 extra minutes to talk softball.
Amanda Lorenz was only 6 years old.
“Her softball IQ has always been at another level,” said Meaghan Stotts, who gave Lorenz lessons at Moorpark High School in Southern California. “To be honest, I don’t even think it’s explainable. People ask me about Amanda all the time, and I tell them she is not human.”
Lorenz was one of Stotts’ first students after Stotts finished her playing career at the University of Arizona and moved back home to Moorpark, located about 50 miles outside of Los Angeles.
Stotts immediately knew she was working with a once-in-a-lifetime talent.
Lorenz’s plate discipline and pitch recognition rivaled players three times her age. Her work ethic set a standard few could match.
Having developed into one of the top hitters and toughest outs in the sport, Lorenz has helped lead the University of Florida back to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.
The second-seeded Gators defeated Georgia 11-3 in five innings in their opener Thursday and face No. 3 UCLA—the school Lorenz dreamed about attending before visiting Florida—in the winner's bracket on Friday night.
As the catalyst of the Florida offense, Lorenz is the ultimate situational hitter. The left-handed junior outfielder can hit for power, hit for average, and doesn’t mind taking walks.
Lorenz has reached base safely in every game this season and in every game but seven in her entire three-year career.
The SEC Player of the Year is batting a team-leading .428 with 11 home runs, 19 doubles, and 61 RBIs. She ranks fifth in the nation in on-base percentage (.590), sits third overall in runs scored (73), and leads the country in walks (68).
“Her ability to come through in clutch situations is what really stands out,” SEC Network analyst Madison Shipman said. “It is unbelievable how many times she comes up with runners on base and seems to always get the job done. Being able to keep a consistent mindset when runners are on base in high-pressure situations is something really difficult and she seems to make it look really easy.”
Lorenz started playing in the Moorpark Girls Softball rec league at age 5. After a few games in T-ball, she was moved up to 8U because she could already hit live pitching. But once she started hitting too much, the league moved her up again to 10U.
“She would walk off the field and tell me every pitch that was thrown,” Lorenz’s father, Danny, said. “She would say, ‘Dad, I knew it was a changeup’ or ‘Dad, I knew it was an outside pitch.’ She watched the ball right out of their hand. I don’t know how she learned that. It’s a gift.”
Even as she advanced through high-level travel ball with the OC Batbusters and into college, tee work remained the staple of Lorenz’s hitting routine.
She wore out patches of grass in her backyard in Moorpark from constant use and is a regular in the cages at Florida.
Lorenz devotes hours each day to honing the fundamentals, hitting between 150 to 300 balls off the tee and increasing her workload during the postseason. She focuses on different contact points for every possible location of pitches.
“She is a firm believer that if you don’t do tee work you will suck,” her father said. “She always says you have to do tee work or you are not going to hit. She is religious about that.”
The bigger the game the better Lorenz has performed down the stretch for the Gators this season.
During the super regional against Texas A&M last weekend, Florida had to rally for both wins to secure a spot in the WCWS.
Lorenz was in the middle of both comebacks, homering to spark the seventh-inning rally in Game 1 and drawing a walk to help set up Jordan Matthews’ two-out, two-strike, walk-off three-run home in Game 3 to avoid elimination.
Lorenz, a top four finalist for USA Softball Player of the Year, finished the three-game series 5 for 6 with four runs scored and four walks.
“She’s the best player in America,” Florida coach Tim Walton said. “She has it.”
No matter how many other games Shipman is tracking in the SEC Network studio or at home, Lorenz has become must-watch TV once she steps into the batter’s box.
“I have to stop what I’m doing every time she’s at-bat because you know something is going to happen. She has solidified herself as one of the hitters opponents don’t want to face,” said Shipman, a former All-American shortstop at Tennessee. “Her work ethic and mental approach are honestly the perfect combination for a hitter, and she can hit the outside pitches and inside pitches all with the same power.”
As happy as it makes Stotts to see the statistics Lorenz has accumulated and accolades she’s received in college, it’s the subtle things the coach sees out of her former player that fill her with the most pride.
That includes the way Lorenz always deflects the spotlight to her teammates and encourages them in the dugout for advancing a runner.
The 6-year-old with the infectious smile Stotts first met at the batting cage all those years ago still lives within Lorenz.
“Her intensity and love for the game hasn’t changed,” Stotts said. “That is the one thing that you can’t teach. She just has this passion for softball that is unmatched.”