Saturday, October 21

Triple Play

Devon Lindvall, oldest of three sisters to win youth softball championship, continues to lead at UCLA

Junior outfielder Devon Lindvall is a fourth-generation Bruin who has played an integral part in the team's success since her freshman year. Lindvall and the Bruins are currently riding a five-game win streak.

Junior outfielder Devon Lindvall is a fourth-generation Bruin who has played an integral part in the team's success since her freshman year. Lindvall and the Bruins are currently riding a five-game win streak.

Charlie Chang

As the names ticked across the loudspeakers, a trend was beginning to appear.

First, a voice addressed the crowd in Jasper, Ind., and listed the names of the newly crowned youth softball champions, which included a “Lindvall.”

Hours later, a Missouri accent twanged across the loudspeaker in a crowded stadium in Springfield, Mo., and again the name “Lindvall” was announced.

And finally, some 500 miles away in Rockford, Ill., a voice was heard with that familiar name “Lindvall” as another set of youth softball national champions was announced.

Three different states, three different age groups and three different teams, yet one constant: a player with the last name Lindvall.

Lindvall is the last name of three sisters, including Devon Lindvall, who is a junior outfielder for the UCLA softball team.

Devon, along with her two younger sisters, Janelle and Lauren Lindvall, each won Amateur Softball Association national championships on the same day in 2006.

“I knew one of them had won before our final game, and I knew Janelle was playing in her game so it was just crazy,” Devon Lindvall said of that day.

“Everyone was on the phone with each other. There was someone with all of us, and it was all in the matter of one day. It was pretty crazy.”

Devon Lindvall graduated from Hart High School in Newhall in 2009. Janelle Lindvall, a senior, and Lauren, a sophomore, both play for West Ranch High School and are both committed to play softball at the University of Oregon.

Devon Lindvall still rates the day back in 2006 when each won an ASA national title as one of her greatest thrills in sport.

“Getting back to our parents, they were obviously so proud to see all three of us succeed at different levels, and all of us have such a different role on those teams,” Devon Lindvall said.

“Their lives are basically us and our softball, so I think that was just great that we could do that for them in a way.”

The unprecedented feat the sisters accomplished is just one of many legacies of the Lindvall family. The UCLA junior is a fourth-generation Bruin, having followed in the footsteps of her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, in addition to two of her uncles.

Having been raised a Bruin, Lindvall understands that the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the one on the back, even though the back has a family legacy of its own.

“I think it made my transition a lot easier just being familiar with the campus and with a lot of UCLA traditions, but it also made it a lot more exciting for me because it was something that I looked up to and wanted to be a part of,” Devon Lindvall said.

“I was able to finally feel that sense of tradition ““ and the meaning of it ““ and the legacy of UCLA. That’s what being a Bruin is all about, being able to be a part of something that is bigger than yourself, the four letters.”

Lindvall experienced immediate success when she joined the storied softball program.

As a freshman in 2010, Lindvall helped lead the Bruins to their 11th NCAA title.

In fact, Lindvall’s diving grab from center field in the first game of the championship series was featured on the ESPN SportsCenter top plays.

“She plays the game in one gear; she’s all out, 100 percent in everything she does and that’s in school, that’s in softball and that’s also just being a Bruin teammate,” coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said.

“She came into this program with no guarantees, and she’s earned herself a lot of respect and a lot of playing time knowing that she proves it every day at practice to her teammates.”

Inouye-Perez, now in her sixth year as head coach and 24th year with the program, places Lindvall in historic company.

“There are players that come through that you can really (notice) when you go through and say, in the history of all the greatest players that have played this game at the highest level: championships, All-Americans, Player of the Year award winners; there is only a very select few that are really true Bruins,” Inouye-Perez said.

“When I say that, it’s not just what you do on the softball field, it is how you represent this program, and Devon is definitely one of the truest Bruins that we have.”

Lindvall, who wears former UCLA baseball star Jackie Robinson’s famous No. 42, felt a strong connection with another Bruin great, John Wooden.

Lindvall’s great uncle was a Pac-8 referee and was friends with Wooden, granting Lindvall the opportunity to meet him on numerous occasions.

“I just always idolized that man,” Lindvall said of Wooden. “My whole family just preached John Wooden’s words.”

Days after Wooden passed away in June of 2010, the softball program closed out Arizona to win the national championship. Lindvall had little doubt who was leading the team’s charge at that time.

“When we won the national championship, that was when he had passed away, so it was like he was looking over us,” Lindvall said of the legendary coach.

“It was very significant to our team and definitely had an effect on us.”

Sophomore pitcher Jessica Hall recognizes Lindvall’s ability to impact and inspire the team on and off the field.

“I think a lot of people see Devon the same because she’s just that type of person that you can’t really miss,” Hall said of her UCLA teammate.

“She’s the most enthusiastic person I know.”

“You can never catch her in an off day. She’s always the first person to kind of pump you up and (she’s) just that positive energy on the team.”

Lindvall’s impact on and off the field, as she earned a Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention as a sophomore, has endeared her not only to her teammates but also her coach.

“It’s a select few that I can really think (of) throughout the history that truly get it because for Devon it’s not about outcome,” Inouye-Perez said.

“She’s going to earn everything she gets, and as a result, she’s prepared for every moment, and she’s proved it.”

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