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Leading the arms race

Hamlet Nalbandyan

GLENDALE -- It’s safe to say that Heather Lindstrom knows what she’s

talking about when it comes to pitching and softball.

The 31-year-old was one of the first in a long line of great hurlers

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to come from this area, a list that includes Nancy Evans, Lindsay Parker

and most recently, Meredith Cervenka.

Her most notable accomplishment was winning a CIF Southern Section

Division 3-A title in 1986 with Crescenta Valley, which is still the lone

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crown in program history.

After graduating in 1988, she went on to play at Cal State Northridge

for four years, helping the Matadors win two conference titles.

She is now a pitching coach in the local area, and has been passing on

her knowledge to young girls since 1994.

With that said, obviously her opinion carries a lot of weight when it

comes to softball, and more importantly, pitching.

So when she says that two of her clients, La Canada Flintridge

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residents Kelly Kalish and Lauren Nydam, have the potential to be among

the best ever from this area, people tend to listen.

And Lindstrom has every reason to think that highly of her proteges.

In her three-year varsity career at La Canada High, Kalish has

accumulated a 42-14 overall record and has never had an earned-run

average greater than 0.47.

The senior has been named to the News-Press All-Area first team all

three years and has struck out 389 batters in 392 1/3 innings during that

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time.

Perhaps more impressive than her high school accomplishments, Kalish’s

California Cruisers travel ball team was runner-up in the presigious

18-Gold Amateur Athletic Assn. Girls’ Fastpitch Softball Nationals in

Marietta, Ga., during the summer.

“Kelly is just a great competitor, and she’s as good as a girl like

Meredith,” said Lindstrom of the NAIA power, Point Loma Nazarene

University-bound Kalish in comparison with Cervenka, the former CV star

who just recently beat UCLA, the nation’s No. 1 team, as a freshman at

Long Beach State.

“Kelly could have easily gone to a Division I school, but she made a

very mature decision not to. She put her ego aside and decided to do what

makes her happy.

“Point Loma is a small Christian school, and it’s very beautiful

there. She’s going to have a great career.”

Lindstrom’s high praise of Kalish is nothing in comparison with Nydam,

a 6-foot sophomore at Village Christian.

“Lauren has the potential to be very, very good,” Lindstrom said.

“When she’s done, she could be as good, if not better than, anyone to

come out of here.

“Right now, she’s as good as Meredith [pitching wise], she just

doesn’t have the experience yet.”

That’s extremely high praise whenever someone is compared to a pitcher

like Cervenka, but considering the source, Lindstrom has to know what

she’s talking about, right?

Well, if you’ve still got a doubt, go see for yourself. Kalish’s

Spartans (1-1) will host Nydam’s Crusaders (1-2) at 3:15 p.m. today in a

nonleague contest.

But be advised, you could be there awhile, because like Lindstrom

said, these are two very good pitchers.

And she should know. She taught them everything they know.

“Heather is the only pitching coach I’ve ever gone to,” said Nydam,

15, who is coming off a 16-4 season in which she led Village Christian to

the CIF Southern Section Division V semifinals.

“I was like 10 years old when I started going to her, and I had

pitched a little before that, but I was really, really bad.”

Like Nydam, Lindstrom is the only pitching coach that Kalish has known

as well.

“She’s the one and only,” said Kalish, 18, who started going to

Lindstrom when she was 9.

“Heather is one of my role models, not just in pitching, but in life.

She’s like a sister, probably because she’s not old enough to be my mom.”

Naturally, both Nydam and Kalish are close to Lindstrom.

Kalish baby-sits for Lindstrom’s two daughters, Lauren, 9, and Morgan,

3, even with Lindstrom living in Thousand Oaks.

Nydam’s relationship with Lindstrom is more of a teacher/student bond.

“I go to her about half an hour a week, and what we work on most is

getting me prepared mentally,” said Nydam, who has an arsenal of six

pitches, with her best being a 63-mile-per-hour fastball.

As far as the relationship between Kalish and Nydam goes, the two are

friends and plan to work out together in the future.

Nydam even considers Kalish a role model.

“When I was just starting out, I’d watch Kelly and be like ‘wow’, “

Nydam said. “To see somebody as good as her and see how hard she worked,

was very motivating.

“I even changed my motion to emulate hers. It’s worked wonders so

far.”

THE PITCHING FILE

Name: Heather Lindstrom.

Age: 31.

High school: Crescenta Valley, class of 1988.

Occupation: Pitching coach.

Did you know? Lindstrom led CV to its lone CIF Southern Section

Division 3-A title in 1986, beating Woodbridge, 5-4.

Name: Kelly Kalish.

Age: 18.

High school: La Canada, class of 2002.

Did you know? Kalish was 42-14 in her three-year high school career

entering this year and has never had an earned-run average higher than

0.47.

Name: Lauren Nydam.

Age: 15.

High school: Village Christian, class of 2004.

Did you know? As a freshman, Nydam led the Crusaders to the CIF

Southern Section Division V semifinals after posting a 16-4 record with a

0.36 ERA.


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