Guerin senior softball player Emily Lugo didn’t exactly have the typical aspirations of many athletic girls growing up.
She planned to make history.
“I wanted to be the first woman MLB player,” Lugo said. “My biggest influence is my dad. He grew up playing baseball and would always tell stories about high school and it really inspired me. So my twin brother (Ruben) and I both played Little League baseball until I was in sixth or seventh grade. I didn’t even know softball existed.”
Lugo’s father, Ruben, who played baseball at Clemente, instilled fundamentals in his children and fondly recalls his daughter’s baseball career.
“She succeeded in baseball and even pitched when she was 9 or 10,” Ruben Lugo said. “She has a strong arm, but she shocked me. She was striking kids out. The boys were making fun of her at first, saying a girl is pitching, but after she struck most of them out, then it was, ‘Oh, Emily is going to pitch.’ She got their respect pretty quick.”
Emily Lugo more than held her own playing against boys, but eventually transitioned to softball. She strongly believes baseball helped her softball career.
“It’s a smaller ball, so you have to be more focused on hitting,” Lugo said. “Adjusting to a bigger ball wasn’t too hard because it is easier to hit. Baseball taught me the basic fundamentals.”
Lugo is in the midst of an impressive comeback this season.
After playing some varsity games as a sophomore, Lugo missed almost her entire junior season with a knee injury.
“It was tough,” Lugo said. “It happened in the second game and I was done for most of the season. Sitting and watching and going through therapy and rigorous training was hard. I didn’t like knowing that I couldn’t help the team. I tried to be as supportive as I could. It feels great to be back.”
Despite tearing an ACL, MCL and meniscus in her left knee covering second on a stolen-base attempt, Lugo still managed to return for a couple games last season.
“It was awesome fighting back when everyone thought I wouldn’t be back or that I wouldn’t be back to normal,” Lugo said. “It was nice to see I could still do it without any worries.”
Lugo plays shortstop, third base and pitches for the Gators. She hits third in the lineup and has been a valuable asset to first-year coach Jerry Baldwin.
“We’re trying to build the program back up and she’s the kind of model we’re looking for in terms of the program,” Baldwin said. “She leads everyone by example and her work ethic is contagious to other players. She’s positive, upbeat and always puts academics first.”
Lugo will attend Dominican University next year and may play softball.
If her major-league baseball career doesn’t pan out, Lugo has other talents to fall back on.
As a member of the school’s theatre group, she was the narrator in the fairy tales of “Brothers Grimm” and in the play “Working,” she portrayed a flight attendant, cleaning woman and factory worker.
“As crazy as it sounds, as a little kid, I liked to watch superhero movies with my cousin and try to re-enact them,” she said. “Playing different characters, using different make-up and clothes and entertaining people was always fun.”