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Lauren Gibson was The Sun's Metro Softball Player of the Year in 2007 as a sophomore, and the Chesapeake pitcher-infielder is having a fine encore season this spring.

In leading the Cougars to a 23-3 record, including the Class 4A state title last spring, Gibson went 18-3 with an 0.51 ERA and batted .471 with 24 RBIs and 24 runs scored. She pitched a 2-0 no-hitter in the state final against Damascus.

Gibson is batting .500 with 21 RBIs, has scored 25 runs and has six homers in 16 games this season. On the mound, she is 9-1 with an 0.83 ERA.

She orally committed to the University of Tennessee last year and wants to become a veterinarian. Gibson has a 4.09 grade point average and is a consistent honor roll student.

How did you end up choosing Tennessee so early?

I visited there and they have a wonderful veterinarian education program that I am very interested in. I liked the campus, the coaches, just the whole environment.

You obviously have pets, right?

Yes, I have three goats and two dogs. I've always had animals since I was little. I love helping them and doing things for them. I need help with the goats, so, my dad [Steve] helps me with them.

Will you pitch at Tennessee?

No. They took me on as a batter and No. 3 hitter. They feel as if they have a lot of pitching and need me to play a position, either second or third base. I will miss pitching, but I don't really have the size at 5-4 and 129 pounds to gain speed at the next level.

What is in your pitching repertoire?

I throw a fastball, changeup, drop, curve, screwball, riser and splitter. I get different spins on each of my pitches and have confidence on all of them.

Who has helped you the most with your pitching during high school?

Bill Dryden of the Riviera Beach Spirit, my dad and my mom [Lorrie].

What about your hitting?

I'd have to say my dad, who played baseball at Mervo in Baltimore. I hit off a tee, but I practice the most with my dad pitching to me. Live pitching is better because it really helps my hand-eye coordination.

What kind of hitter are you? Line-drive hitter or power hitter?

I'm a line-drive hitter. Home runs are nice, but I try to hit line drives. I bat left but used to switch-hit before deciding that I was better off hitting left-handed.

How much help to your game was it playing on Team New Jersey in the fall?

It's been great. I get to play with a lot of really good players, like Kourtney Salvarola of Broadneck, my top high school rival, and a lot of great players up and down the East Coast. We play against girls from the West Coast, and they are bigger and stronger. We play in showcase tournaments in California [twice], Florida, Texas and New Jersey. You get an idea of what it will be like in college.

Do you have any routine or superstitions to get ready for a game?

When we ride the bus to a game, I like to talk a lot, but when I get into a zone, I like to stay there. As for superstitions, when we throw the ball around after an out, we don't let it hit the ground. Can't let it hit the ground.

What do you like to do when you are not playing softball?

I like to shop, hang out with my boyfriend and go to the movies. My boyfriend played soccer and tennis at Chesapeake and is at Anne Arundel Community College right now. When he finishes there, I will be finished at Chesapeake and hopefully he will be going to Tennessee with me.

Have you set future goals?

Yes, I want to be a starter in college, break a record or two and win a national title at Tennessee. I want to make the USA softball team and become a veterinarian.

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