By (Kelly Ward)

With the bases loaded and one out, down 1-0 at South Alabama last spring, Alabama coach Patrick Murphy called on an unknown, freshman pitcher, to work out of the jam.

It was the first game of the season. Beyond the fall scrimmages and practice, she’d never faced collegiate hitting. She’d certainly never faced it in this situation.

“I kind of went in there just not thinking about it so much, and just throwing my pitches,” Alexis Osorio said. “But I will never forget that moment that Murph put me in there.”

Her pitches worked. She struck out four batters in 1 2/3 innings pitched and earned the win after her teammates put up two runs in the top of the seventh.

Fast forward nearly four months, Osorio faced another bases-loaded jam, this time with two outs and one she didn’t inherit. Against the best home-run hitter in college softball, someone who hadn’t struck out with the bases loaded all year, Osorio threw her rise ball up and in on former-Oklahoma slugger Lauren Chamberlain, whose bat couldn’t find the ball.

She pumped her fist, and that’s about all the emotion people think she shows in the circle.

“I kind of treat this sport like I gotta go to work, but I also need to have fun so I gotta get a good mixture of that in there,” Osorio said. “And being off the field it’s like I’m in college, I’m a college student so we’re going to throw a little bit of fun in there, especially with the teammates.”

The beginning

Osorio, a California native, prefers to be outside more than anything. If she’s stuck inside, she’s bored. She picked up snowboarding quickly and spent holidays with her family in the desert riding dirt bikes. She’s a bit of a daredevil, except when she’s driving her Honda.

When Osorio was younger her parents had her and her brother find something to do. She tried soccer. She tried gymnastics. Then, she found softball.

She started out on the left side of the infield, but she didn’t want to stick with third base. She wanted to pitch. Her father, Anthony, was the coach at the time.

“I didn’t allow her to pitch because she didn’t know what she was doing,” Anthony said.

When she turned nine, her parents took her to a pitching coach. A year or so later, she began pitching. Like most young pitchers, she threw a lot of walks, and it was a slow process. Learning to pitch is a process of trial and error, and for many there are plenty of errors.

But she stuck with it.

Her parents didn’t think it would amount to what it has now, an education at a four-year university. She is the first in her family to go to a major four-year university and the first to play a sport at one.

They didn’t think she would play sports in college because Alexis was clumsy when she was little.

“She didn’t look athletic at all,” her mother, Erika, said and laughed.

Alexis persisted and continued to grow as a pitcher. She played competitively on the Corona Angels from 12-and-under on. As an eighth grader, she tried out for the ninth grade team. As a sophomore in high school, she was the ace on the 18-under Gold team.

On that team were several other Division I pitchers, all older than she was at the time.

“I think her temperament makes her great so you wouldn’t know if she’s down by four or up by four,” Corona Angels coach Marty Tyson said. “She has a real strong temperament and a real strong competitor. People don’t realize that about quiet kids.”

As a senior in Premier Girls Fastpitch, Alexis was pitching her way through a back-and-forth game. There was a point when she decided she was going to win that game. Shay Knighten, now a freshman infielder at Oklahoma, was at short stop when Alexis turned and gave her a small smile.

She struck out the next batter on four pitches and pumped her fist in the air.

“I knew she was going to be a great player,” Knighten said. “She already was, but at that moment, I knew, I was like, ‘Lex is going to be known. She’s going to make a name for herself. She’s going to be known for a long time.’ ”

Recruiting trip

When Alexis started looking at colleges, she didn’t want to look more than a state away. The farthest was Oregon, and Arizona State was high on her list.

Then, Alabama came knocking. Alexis wasn’t interested. She wanted to stay close to home. She also told her parents she would never go back to that state. When Alexis was 10, she and her team competed at nationals in Auburn. After the team was eliminated from the tournament, she passed out from a combination of heat and dehydration.

Erika urged her daughter to visit Alabama anyway, just to see what she would say no to. She didn’t have to play at Alabama if she didn’t want to. She just had to visit.

Alexis, only a sophomore in high school at the time, sat behind the most powerful coach in the state’s desk, wearing his trademark hat. She didn’t know who Nick Saban was, not yet anyway. She just knew he coached football at Alabama, which seemed like a big deal. The pomp and circumstance in SEC football was foreign to her in Riverside, California.

She sat there, having been offered some of Saban’s favorite cookies, and then, he walked in. He had a smile on his face, but if Alexis had a smile before, it was gone now. She was caught red-handed.

“Her hand in the cookie jar,” Anthony said.

Just not the one with Little Debbie’s cookies in it.

Besides meeting Saban, Alexis met with everyone on the softball team.

“A lot of the visits, you might meet a couple of the players and you kind of hang out with them, but no, everyone was there,” Erika said.

That put her parents at ease with the program. They wanted her to continue her college visits, but …read more

Source:: The Crimson White Sports