Loman leads by example to get the job done
BY MATT LOZAR
Associate Sports Editor
Compare Andrea Loman, The Observer's 2002-03 Outstanding Notre Dame Senior Female Athlete of the Year, to last year's recipient Jarrah Myers, and the scorebook shows striking similarities.
Throughout their four-year careers, both Loman and Myers played their way into the top five for batting average, runs, home runs, walks, RBI, steals and fielding percentage in the Notre Dame record book.
But then you talk to softball coach Deanna Gumpf and she explains the two star players couldn't be any more different.
"Jarrah was very intense and was the heart and soul of the while `Drea is very a quiet leader. She gets in there and does her job," Gumpf said. "They are different types of leaders but effective. Two of the most opposite types of leaders."
Myers needed to be more of a leader on the field, especially her senior year, calling her own pitches and catching a pitching staff that relied on two freshmen. This season, Loman is one of four seniors starting on the infield and doesn't necessarily need to be a vocal leader.
"I mostly lead by example, but if there is something that needs to be said, I'll definitely address the issue so there is no problems and to keep everything in order," Loman said.
A true captain
The list of awards Loman has captured is seemingly endless. Four-time All-Big East first team recognition. A two-time Big East Championship Most Outstanding Player. The Big East Rookie of the Year. A third-team All-America.
And just eight days ago, Loman became the third consecutive Notre Dame player to be named the Big East Player of the Year.
At last weekend's Big East Championships, Loman hit .500 with five RBI and hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Irish their second straight conference tournament crown.
But of all those personal accolades, nothing that other people say really matters to Loman. It's the voice of her teammates that means the most.
"Being named captain this year just shows the respect your teammates have for you," Loman said. "It's a mutual thing that you have for them as well and it's just a great honor."
When the Riverside, Calif. native does acknowledge her numerous awards, she passes the recognition to anyone but herself.
"They pay tribute to all those who have helped me get to where I am today, my parents, my family, coaches throughout the years since I've been playing since I was 10," Loman said.
The career numbers show why Loman is one of the most decorated athletes in the history of the Notre Dame softball program. Entering this weekend's NCAA Regionals, Loman leads the 2003 Irish in batting average (.408), which would be good for the second best season in Notre Dame history, runs scored (41), hits (64), doubles (12), RBI (40), slugging (.662), on-base percentage (.466) and stolen bases (17). Loman is also tied with outfielder Liz Hartmann for the team lead in home runs with eight.
"I am losing someone who is irreplaceable," Gumpf said. "You can't replace someone like `Drea."
In her first two seasons at Notre Dame, Loman played first base. She switched over to third last year and made the transition without a hitch due to her experience at third in high school and in travel leagues. As a junior, Loman made eight errors, but six of those came after she broke a finger on her throwing hand in early April.
This season, Loman has made only five errors and leads a Notre Dame defense that currently is tied for third in the country with a .976 fielding percentage.
With the bases 60 feet away, the hot corner lives up to its nickname in softball as balls come quickly off the bat. Loman never looks surprised and is ready to always make a jaw-dropping play.
"I might be a little biased, but I think she is the best third baseman in the country," Gumpf said. "She brings intangibles that most people don't have. Andrea is a natural.
"She makes plays that most people can't make."
When the inevitable offensive struggles come at the plate, Loman wants to be able to rely on something and always be a major contributor for her team. That attitude, of being a solid defensive player, started from the beginning.
"Throughout the years, I've been really consistent defensively while offensively from my freshman to my senior year, I have been getting better, but haven't been that consistent and my defense has always been there," Loman said. "That's something my dad has always told me, if something isn't working and your offense isn't there, make sure your defense always is.
"So I think I really pride myself in that."
One difference she wants
During each of Loman's three previous seasons, the Irish have qualified for the NCAA Regionals and failed to move on to the Womens College World Series. In 2001, Iowa upset the top-seeded Irish and last year, the Irish were also eliminated on the last day of the regionals, this time by Nebraska.
Loman's won the awards and accomplished just about everything a player could want. The only thing she hasn't done, is get to Oklahoma City, Okla. and play in the Women's College World Series.
This weekend is her last chance.
"You have been working hard your past four years and coming up a game short almost every year. We are looking to have a good regional tournament this year," Loman said. "It is definitely going to be tough and a challenge for us.
"I think we have some people fearing us, which is good."
That's the one place where Loman wants to separate herself from Myers and the rest of the great players in Notre Dame softball history.
All Sports Stories for Friday, July 11, 2003