Fitzgerald one to look up to

LSU softball second baseman Sara Fitzgerald might only be 5-foot-3, but she is definitely someone people look up to. She leads the Tigers in hits, but the junior from Kingwood, Texas, may be a bigger hit off the diamond.

A fan favorite at Tiger Park, Fitzgerald is one of the most recognized members of the softball team in the community.

"She has been a great ambassador for LSU and Tiger softball," said head coach Yvette Girouard said.

Fitzgerald takes part in many civic and extra-curricular activities when she is not fielding ground balls or ripping opposing pitching. She is the softball team's liaison to the CHAMPS (Challenging Athletes Minds for Personal Success) program, which allows LSU athletes to give back to the community.

"We have done free clinics for kids that she has worked," Girouard said. "Although it wasn't highly publicized, we went to Lafayette and helped some people after the hurricane. She has read in elementary schools and visits disabled kids in hospitals."

Fitzgerald said athletes can have a direct affect to young people and feels it is her obligation to serve that role in youngsters' lives.

"I always think back to when I was 12 years old," Fitzgerald said. "I had just started playing the game and a college player came out and said a few words to us. From then on, it was a dream of mine to play the game and it was always what I wanted to do.

"I remember what I felt like then. I know if you can touch one kid, it can make a difference."

Fitzgerald said it is her duty to give back to the community that has given her so much support since she has come to LSU.

"I like to give back for what others have given me," Fitzgerald said. "I know how much little kids look up to me. I mean, I had some friends in this weekend and they came here today wearing No. 14 on their shirts. That is unbelievable to me."

Although Girouard said she feels sometimes like too much is asked of athletes, she thinks it is their duty to serve the community.

"It is incredible what we ask of them," Girouard said. "We always tell them they were once a little girl and they are fortunate to be a Lady Tiger softball player and have the opportunity to have the career they have. We tell them to never forget that God has blessed them tremendously that they get to play at a fabulous institution and get to represent this program.

"It is their job to give back. They owe LSU. LSU does not owe them anything."

While everything Fitzgerald does is rewarding, she said things are sometimes difficult.

"I have been to see some disabled kids in the hospital," Fitzgerald said. "That was probably the hardest thing I have done at one point, but on the other hand it made me realize a lot, too, because you can't take life for granted.

"I walk out here every day to play this game, that is the one thing those kids would love to do. From one aspect it was tough, but from another it was very rewarding."

Fitzgerald is having an outstanding season for the 11th-ranked Tiger softball team. She leads the team in hits (49), is tied for fourth in the Southeastern Conference in doubles (14) and tied for 10th in runs scored (33).

Fitzgerald leads the team in hits (49), RBIs (29), doubles (14) and total bases (74). She ranks in the top three on the team in batting average, slugging percentage, runs scored, triples, home runs (3) and stolen bases.

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