Mid-Prairie senior Olivia Lugar has thrived as the middle child in a softball pitching family.
She learned from her older sister, Hannah, a first-team all-state pitcher who graduated in 2008.
Olivia also gets to pay it forward by teaching her younger sister, Myah, who is going into fifth grade.
“It’s been great,” Olivia said. “I loved getting to look up to my older sister, seeing all her experiences pitching. Getting so much knowledge from her.
“And it’s awesome to be the big sister, to teach my younger sister, to tell her to go out there and have fun and stay positive.”
Olivia has pitched on varsity for five seasons with the Golden Hawks, each year going to Fort Dodge.
This season, Olivia Lugar put together a 16-7 record with a 1.82 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 146 innings. For a great season and a great career, Olivia Lugar was picked as the 2013 Press-Citizen Softball Pitcher of the Year.
“The team knew what she could do,” Mid-Prairie coach Justin Lutjen said. “We’d run her out there against the best teams in the state. She doesn’t have the impressive record like other pitchers, but she’s one of the best in the state.
“If it was a big game, she got the ball. We rode Olivia through the tournament and she got us to state.”
Olivia isn’t a strikeout pitcher like her older sister was.
“She is more of a pitch-to-contact hitter,” Lutjen said. “She has good movement and puts it places.
“But she’s played with the same girls almost her whole life, they have confidence in her and her in them.”
“She threw harder than me,” Olivia said of Hannah. “We had different pitches that we liked to throw. Some of hers were better than mine, and vice versa.”
Olivia used to tag along when Hannah went to pitching lessons with former Mid-Prairie coach Amy Hartsock.
She started taking an interest in what her big sis was learning.
Steve Lugar, the dad of three Golden Hawk pitchers, said Hannah took an interest in pitching in fourth grade.
“They loved to practice,” Steve said. “I didn’t push them to practice, but I was there to catch them.”
Olivia looked up to her big sister.
“Following her to those pitching sessions, I’d get to work with Amy for 10 minutes here and there, and fell in love with it,” Olivia said. “I’ve really enjoyed it since I was little.”
Suddenly Olivia was an eighth-grader, and trying to replace her all-state sister in the circle for the Golden Hawks.
“My family was awesome about never putting any pressure on me,” Olivia said. “They never told me to have too high of expectations. Just do what I love. If I enjoy it, go for it. If I don’t, there’s other positions I could play, too.
“They always encouraged me to do what makes me happy.”
Playing with her senior class made her happy. The group had a lot of success in Fort Dodge, placing fifth this past year, but never won the big trophy.
“It was nice to end the season with two wins,” Olivia said. “It was a ton of fun. We are the most tight-knit group. We had a blast.”
Now Olivia will move on to Northern Iowa. She will put away her glove but will bring it out to help her younger sister.
“I’ve been trying to help her out as much as I can,” Olivia said. “Last week of the season, she was out in the yard pitching to my dad, and I’m out there helping her.”
Dad joked it’ll be weird going to Golden Hawk games without a Lugar on the roster. And in the circle.
“I wish I could say it’s relaxing,” Steve said of being the parent of three pitchers. “It depends on what the score is. I don’t want to make it bigger than it is. It’s just high school softball.
“But when my daughter is out there pitching in a close game with runners in scoring position, it can be a little bit …”
Ten years of varsity softball in the rear-view, and only five more to go for the Lugars.
“It was fun watching Hannah mature into a good pitcher,” Olivia said. “It encouraged me to work harder at it. And made me a lot more excited.”