ROYAL OAK – It’s a bird. It’s a plane.
It’s "SuperLex", the Lakeland softball program’s high-flying sophomore pitcher, Alexa Flores, in the midst of establishing herself one of the area’s fiercest big-game hurlers in the circle.
Earning the increasingly-fitting moniker when she was a young girl, Flores has certainly lived up to it, proving as multi-dimensional a talent on the diamond as there is in Oakland County.
Over the weekend, she helped spearhead the Eagles to the title at the annual Fred Pieper Tournament in Royal Oak for the sixth year in a row, flashing a scintillating skill-set with her arm and her bat.
Credited with five of the squad’s six victories in the two-day affair, she got the best of all-state senior Troy Athens spinner Haley Zemmer in Sunday’s semifinals, throwing a doozy of a shutout while leading Lakeland to a 3-0 blanking of Zemmer and the Red Hawks. Turning her attention to the plate in the finals, she went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI, a triple and a home run in a 6-5 defeat of Romeo.
“Lexie is just an awesome player, a pure athlete and tough as nails,” legendary Lakeland skipper Joe Alsup said. “I think she’s already in the mix with the elite pitchers in Metro Detroit and she’s still got tons of room to grow. Offensively, she’s been bombing the ball all around the park this year and you saw that today. She has the chance to be very special.”
Her command, composure and pitch arsenal are considerably exceeding her age and experience level.
“For being so young, she really brings it,” Alsup said. “When she pitches, she hits all her spots, she’s got movement and velocity and is extremely difficult to rattle. She’s surprising a lot of people.”
A large part of that surprise comes from the fact that this is Flores’ first season pitching. Last year as a freshman, she started for the Eagles behind the plate at catcher.
Through the course of the offseason, however, Alsup and his coaching staff recognized traits that could make Flores a force to be reckoned with in the circle and fell in love with the idea of having her change positions and morph into the club’s tireless and tenacious ace.
“The conversion has been a huge factor for us and how we've started off this year,” Alsup said. “Alexa has accomplished a great amount in a short period of time.”
With Flores' flourishing as the staff's ace, Lakeland is 21-4 and currently ranked No. 7 in the state..
Unfazed by the prospect of changing her role with the team, Flores embraced the switch wholeheartedly.
“I’ve put in lots of hard work and I’m gaining confidence every time out,” she said.
Being a catcher prior in her career has aided significantly in the transition process.
“I try to take that same mindset I used to have when I caught of knowing what pitches to throw, how to place them and how to work the counts into the circle with me.”
Lakeland's history of exceptional hurlers motivates her.
"That tradition of the girls that have come before me here is inspiring and gives me a level to strive for," she said. "My job now is to uphold that legacy and try to be the best player I can be."