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Palmer’s success is earned

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It was around her 17th win that someone pointed out Lindsey Palmer's win streak.

"I had no idea," said the Salt Lake Community College pitcher, who will play for Utah next season. "I hadn't thought about it ... but then someone said I hadn't lost."

Then 17-0, the four-time All-State pitcher from Tooele said she focused on the goals she had before the season started, before any record or streak could sidetrack her.

"I had to block everything out of my mind but the game we were playing," said Palmer, who finished with a perfect regular season record of 25-0. "People kept saying, and I knew (a loss) would come sooner or later ... I didn't really care what my record was. I wanted to win the tournament."

Palmer and the Bruins fell short of winning the tournament, but not before the SWAC player of the year earned a 29-2 record and the team finished with 43-10. Palmer earned one more accolade last week when she was named NJCAA First Team All American. Her teammate, and Kearns alum, Tara Bendt, was named to the second team.

"I have had one before, but first teamers are pretty rare," said SLCC head softball coach Mary Kay Amicone.

Palmer's quote for this spring's season was fitting for a player who has always been one of the best at what she does.

"No matter how good you get, you can always get better." And after her freshman year at SLCC, if there was one thing Palmer wanted to do, it was improve.

While 19-9 with 193 strike outs and a .320 batting average, don't seem sub-standard to some, those numbers disappointed Palmer.

"The thing that stands out about Lindsey is her competitive nature," said Amicone. "I first saw her when I was coaching a summer team and she pitched against us. She whipped us, and I knew I had to have her."

Palmer said she underestimated the difficulty of moving from high school to college softball.

"I really didn't think it was going to be that big of a difference going from high school to college," Palmer said. "It's huge. I wasn't used to adjusting to different hitters as much as I had to."

Amicone said much of that was created by Palmer's expectations. She'd been part of a winning tradition and been singled out most of her life as one of the state's best.

"She came to college and it wasn't the same," Amicone said. "She didn't hit as well, something she was also very accomplished at, and all of a sudden things were a lot more difficult."

Palmer's reaction to every aspect of the game being more of a challenge was to work that much harder. But at no time did she expect she'd finish the season with a perfect record.

How did she do it?

"There was no way I could have won those game without my team," Palmer said. "And this year I knew what to expect. The mental facet of my game really improved."

She knows she's playing at a higher level and she's competing against tougher players. But it wasn't just physical work she needed to do in the off-season.

"I don't know if I really sat down and said 'I'm going to do something differently,"' said Palmer. "We did work a lot with the mental approach to the game. That was the biggest difference."

She focused on her thought process in and around games. Her decision was that she needed to be tougher, be more positive.

"It helped me perform better," she said. "I didn't let things get to me."

And how. The future Ute finished with a .90 ERA and 309 strike outs. She threw 11 shutouts and recorded four no-hitters in the 2008 season.

It seems Palmer should be satisfied with her performance this season, but she's not.

"It stinks that we didn't get to go to Nationals," she said. "I think we were the better team."

Palmer and five of her teammates will go on to play softball at the Division I level next year. Jasey Jensen and Brooke Olsen will head to Utah with Palmer this fall. Tara and Kara Bendt will play at UNLV next season. Palmer said she's excited to be moving on, but even more so that two of her SLCC teammates are coming with her.

"They were a huge part of our team and after having the season we did, it's really nice," Palmer said.

Regardless of the uniform, the Tooele native will continue to find a way to be successful because that's what she does. What else would you expect from a woman who chooses, "No matter how good you get, you can always get better" for her personal slogan.

E-mail: adonaldson@desnews.com