Lisa Pugh grew up at Cabrini Green, an inner city housing project on Chicago’s North Side. She was the seventh child of nine (one brother and eight sisters). When she was ten, she began playing baseball with the neighborhood boys. They called her a tomboy but they changed their tune when she struck out some of the boys. She started playing sixteen-inch softball at fourteen while working for the Chicago Park District at Stanton and Seward Parks in Chicago. She credits gym instructors Janice Roberts and Johnnie Croskey for teaching her the fundamentals of hitting, throwing, and pitching.
She realized her love for the game when she watched her father watched baseball. She knew she couldn’t play baseball, so softball became her passion. Her elementary school teachers told he how athletically gifted she was. She played volleyball, softball, and basketball at Lincoln Park High School, but softball was always her first choice.
She travelled with her first team, BIG 50, around Chicago seeking better competition. They won several league titles with coaches Mr. Lee and Ms. Epps. She the moved to the top ranked team Force after graduating from high school in 1981. She had heard the hype about the team but couldn’t play for them sooner because she wasn’t eighteen. She was nervous about joining them because they were older, but she was sure with her skills and confidence she would contribute to their success.
In 1982 she joined her husband, Trez van Pugh in Okinawa, Japan. She worked at the USO and was approached by a co-worker who asked if she played softball. Lisa was a member of Dependent Wives, a military organization for the wives of soldiers. On her first day of practice, she discovered that they played with gloves, an unheard of development for a sixteen-inch softball warrior. So she started a sixteen-inch tournament and got six teams to participate. The players called their participation in the tournament challenging and one of the best experiences of their lives.
When she returned to the States in 1987, she resumed her softball career. She played on several women’s and co-ed teams and played at parks throughout the Chicago area. She played third base, second base, shortstop, short center, left and right field and catcher. She is a consistent hitter who has the knack for hitting the ball to the gaps in all parts of the field.
She has been named to numerous all-tournament teams and has been selected MVP many times.
- 1981 NSA State MVP / All Tournament
- 1982 NSA National MVP / All Tournament
- 1983 NSA State MVP / All Tournament
- 1987 Mixed Company MVP
- 1988 NSA State MVP / All Tournament
- 2001 ASA National MVP / All Tournament
- 2004 Great Lakes National MVP
- 2004 Supreme Challenge State MVP
- 2005 ASA National MVP / All Tournament
- 2005 All-World ASA / All Tournament
- 2005 Queen City Classic MVP
- 2006 All-World NSA MVP
- 2007 Showdown Naptown NSA MVP
In 2013 her team won the World Series in 2007 in Orlando, Florida and again in 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. She still plays softball with her own women’s team, MTO, a team she has played on for the past thirty years.