Pitch perfect: Murphy shines in NCAA

Maple Ridge secondary grad wins accolades

A Maple Ridge softball standout was named an NCAA all-league selection this week.

Liz Murphy is with her team, the University of Detroit Mercy Titans, at the Horizon League Tournament in Chicago, where it is the second seed.

Her coach, John Conway, said Murphy has worked hard for her success.

“She came into the beginning of the season in excellent shape,” he said. “She puts in the time.”

He likes her drop ball, rise ball and her changeup, and she doesn’t mind sitting down with a coach to talk about how she should be using her excellent stuff.

“She’s very coachable,” he said.

She pays attention to the little details, and fields her position like another shortstop.

Murphy said she would be the undisputed ace starter for most teams, but the Titans are spoiled for pitching, and also boast this season’s pitcher-of the-year in Ashley Mauser.

“We have the two best pitchers in the conference,” said the coach.

That gives Conway the option of bringing in Murphy out of the bullpen to put down any offensive outbursts by the opposition. She comes into games with runners on base, which is stressful for a lot of pitchers, and gives opposing batters a different look.

Across the entire season, Murphy led the league and was third in the nation in saves, with seven.

“I like to work ahead in the count and use my change or my rise – get them looking up and down, and left and right,” she said.

In her third season of NCAA first division play, she knows how to mess up batters.

Murphy was second in the league in batters struck out looking (53), third in the league in strikeouts (118) and had a 2.39 ERA with eight wins across 126 innings pitched.

Murphy has twice been tabbed the Horizon League Pitcher of the Week this season.

She threw a no-hitter versus Northern Kentucky on April 27 with two walks and eight strikeouts. It was the first no-hitter in over two decades for the Titans.

During Horizon League action alone, Murphy compiled a 5-3 record with a 1.55 ERA across 58.2 innings pitched, while tossing three complete games and collecting a league high four saves.

A marker of her growth as a player this season was her 118 strikeouts this year, which is far and away a career high for her. During Murphy’s first two seasons combined she had 129 total.

Murphy graduated from Maple Ridge secondary, accepted a full-ride scholarship to Detroit Mercy, and made an immediate impact, named to the 2017 Horizon League All-Freshman Team.

She had been a multi-sport athlete at MRSS, playing post for Don Herman’s senior girls basketball teams and twice playing in the provincial tournament. She also played volleyball, Metro level soccer and was a thrower for the Ramblers track and field team.

At the age of 14, she left Ridge Meadows Minor Softball and went to the White Rock Renegades, where coach Rick Sullivan taught her how to throw her wide array of pitches.

She focused on fastpitch, and in 2014 was the U16 top pitcher at the Canadian nationals. Murphy also pitched for the junior national team in 2015 and placed fourth at the world championships in Oklahoma City.

Murphy also shines in the classroom, with a 3.59 GPA as she majors in political science with minors in leadership and philosophy. She plans to study law.

Individual success is accompanied by the team posting a record of 16-8 in league play. That was the most wins in conference play in the history of Detroit Mercy. Their overall record of 27-25 is the most wins since the early 1990s.

“We’ve very close. We have a strong team mentality, and everyone wants to win,” she said.

Coach Conway is confident.

“We’re the number two seed, but we feel we can beat anybody. We have the two best pitchers in the conference.”

Murphy will be back in Maple Ridge this summer, and hopes to have a new accessory.

“I’ll be excited to come home at the end of the year with a championship ring on.”


 


ncorbett@mapleridgenews.com

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