BROOKLYN — Her 20-game hitting streak was snapped and the Long Island University softball team split a doubleheader with Mount St. Mary’s at home Sunday afternoon.
But the smile couldn’t be wiped off Lauren Morizi’s face.
She’s been through too much to let a little on-field adversity affect her. After all, it’s been two long years since Morizi has been on the softball diamond after back-to-back surgeries and painful rehabilitation for a pair of torn anterior cruciate ligaments.
That Morizi is even playing is remarkable, and the fact that the shortstop is a having an All-American-caliber season for the Blackbirds is unprecedented, according to LIU coach Roy Kortmann.
“It’s unheard of,” he said. “There’s not many individuals who want to do that. She knew what she had to do the first time, to do it again for that long a time… That’s a special person.”
A native of San Diego, Morizi transferred to Long Island University after her freshman year at New Mexico State University. Before she played her first game with the Blackbirds, though, she tore the ACL in her knee on a routine drill during an indoor preseason workout.
Morizi worked furiously to get back on the field and said her rehabilitation was going extremely well.
And then, it happened again.
“I was doing really well, progressing really fast and getting better. I felt good,” Morizi said. “I was doing a test to return to softball, planted on it doing suicide sprints, and it just completely gave out. I knew right away it was torn.”
It was the day before she was scheduled to return to school, and suddenly Morizi’s career was at a crossroads.
“I’ve always been a softball player,” she said. “I didn’t know what I was without it.”
In a meeting in his office, Kortmann asked if Morizi wanted to put herself through several more months of painful rehabilitation after yet another surgery.
Morizi didn’t waver.
“I just love the game so much. I couldn’t walk away from it,” she said. “There was no doubt in my mind. I took it as another challenge I had to overcome. I didn’t see it as anything that was going to stop me from playing the game again.”
On Feb. 8, for the first time since 2010, Morizi stepped on the field for a competitive game at the Dot Richardson National Collegiate Invitational. She went 2-for-3 with an RBI in a loss to Fordham.
Finally, Morizi said, she was able to say goodbye to the ball bucket she sat on for two years.
“I watched so many games through those two years,” she explained. “I knew I could make an impact on the team and I just really wanted to be out there and help the team. That was my driving force.”
In Clermont, Fla., for that game was Lauren’s father, John, who played football at Fordham University.
John was behind the plate for every one of his youngest daughter’s at-bats during the Florida trip and the subsequent games in Palm Springs, Calif. He was also there this weekend as LIU split a pair of doubleheaders against Monmouth and Mount St. Mary’s.
“This year I was determined I was going to make a lot of games,” John said. “I wanted to be there for the first games when she got back to give her support.”
Finally healthy, Morizi, who also tore the labrum in her non-throwing shoulder during her sophomore year of high school, is making up for lost time. She has started all 52 of LIU’s games this year and leads the team with a .407 batting average. Morizi, whose older sister Karen played softball at Drexel University, also has a team-high 66 hits, 12 doubles and 28 RBI.
She’s helped the Blackbirds to a 13-7 record in the Northeast Conference, including 9-3 over their last 12 league contests.
“I think I’m just seeing the ball well and not trying to do too much,” Morizi said. “I guess I’m finding the right holes. Lately, I’ve just been locked in at the plate. Even when I get two strikes I don’t feel like anything will blow by me. I feel pretty confident.”
Morizi will graduate this spring with a 3.93 GPA, but will have two more years of eligibility. The 21-year-old said she plans on spending those years getting her doctorate in physical therapy.
After all, she has plenty of experience in the field.
“It led me right to my profession,” Morizi said.