Lisa Lovato was born and raised in Blue Island, Illinois along with her seven brothers and three sisters. She started playing organized softball as a shortstop for the Bandits when she was nine. She batted leadoff due to her speed and ability to get on base. In her second year of softball at age ten (1971), she led the Bandits to the championship of the Blue Island Ponytail League. They repeated in 1972 and 1973, and Lisa led the team in hitting both years.
In 1976, when Lisa was fifteen, she was recruited to play for the Gang, a team that played in an18-and-over women’s league in Calumet Park. That summer Lisa helped the Gang beat the legendary Angels (a Hall of Fame honored team). She was moved to left field during that year, as being a left-handed shortstop was a rarity in the game. The Gang also played in the Blue Island Teen League and the Garfield Park Fall League and won championships in both.
The Gang won the Blue Island Teen League championship again in 1977. She was one of their top hitters and run scorers. Her sixteen-inch softball career changed after the summer of 1977 when Lisa’s family moved to Ludington, Michigan, a town where people had never seen a sixteen-inch softball. So Lisa focused on her twelve-inch career. As a freshman in high school, she started on the varsity team and she earned all-conference and all-state honors. She played centerfield because her speed and defensive skills allowed her to cover the field so well. She was an all-conference player during her four years in high school and was the only class “B” player to be named to the Detroit News Class “A” All-State Team. She was named Female Athlete of the year her senior year.
Lisa entered Ferris State University in 1979 on a four-year, full ride scholarship to play softball. She was the only freshman to start that year. Her sophomore year she led the team in runs scored and stolen bases. During her four-year career at Ferris State, Lisa helped the team win the GLIAC championship three times and they competed in the NCAA Division II Women’s College World Series for three straight years, The team finished fifth, seventh, and ninth in the nation. She was named team captain her senior year.
After graduating college with a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management, Lisa moved back to Blue Island. Her first summer back in town (1984) she played softball six nights a week. She played eleven-inch, twelve inch, and sixteen-inch softball that summer. She played sixteen-inch with Good & Plenty in the Calumet Park and Blue Island leagues. She played left field and batted leadoff due to her speed, her on base percentage, and her ability to score runs.
After that first summer, Lisa was recruited by the Desperados (formerly known as Rose and Crown and another Hall of Fame honored team). She played left field and again batted leadoff and helped the Desperados win championships in the Calumet City league and the Worth league. She also entered the Good & Plenty team into the Oak Forest league that summer. She was player/coach and the team won first place in the Oak Forest league that year.
From 1985 to 1987 the Good & Plenty team won three consecutive championships in the Oak Forest League before moving on to the Alsip League. From 1988 through 1993 again, as player/coach, she led the Good & Plenty team to five championships in six years in the Alsip League.
In 1989 she was still playing left field and batting leadoff for the Desperados. That year they won The Quest for the Best (after playing eight games in one day) and were USSA State Champs, and ASA National Champs. She was named Defensive Player of the tournament for the USSSA Class A State Tournament and was also named to the All-Tournament Team. After that year, the Desperados had to disband because no league would let them enter.
In 1992 Lisa was picked up by the Diamond Girls and played in the Tinley Park League. In her first year on the team, she helped the Diamond Girls win their first championship! After that year, they dominated the league and won eight straight championships (from 1992 – 1999). She batted leadoff, played left field, and led the team in hits and runs scored.
In 1995 she was picked up to play in the USSSA State Tournament by Pete’s Hideaway. They finished in second place and Lisa was selected as Outstanding Defensive Player of the Tournament (at age thirty-four). Pete’s Hideaway also recruited her for the Miller Lite Chicago Classic tournament and she led them to their best finish ever when they captured second place! In 1996 Lisa entered the Diamond Girls into the Miller Lite Classic at Grant Park. They won the tournament, beating the Bidayos for first place.
Lisa retired after the 1999 season due to medical reasons. During her thirty-year career, the teams Lisa played on won more than ninety percent of their games. From 1985 to 1999, she played in two or three different leagues each summer. She helped her teams defensively and offensively to win championships in all but two leagues (they took second in those leagues). Her batting average was .650 plus and her on base percentage was even higher. In most of her playing years, she led her team in runs scored. Her job was to get on base and score runs, and she did that very successfully. Her defensive play helped her teams win because she covered the left field line better than anyone. Her quickness and ability to read the batter helped her get that extra jump on the ball before it was even hit.
Lisa worked for the Blue Island Police Department for twelve years before moving to Cave Creek, Arizona where she still lives. For the past twelve years, she has worked as a paraprofessional, teaching learning disabled and special needs children in Cave Creek.