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Olympic memories still golden for Las Vegan Lori Harrigan-Mack

Editor’s note: The Review-Journal unveils its “Where Are They Now” series today that catches up with athletes who played high school, college or professional sports in the Las Vegas Valley. Stories will run at least once a week.

The second sentence of Lori Harrigan-Mack’s Wikipedia bio states that she was an Olympic softball gold medal winner with Team USA in 1996, 2000 and 2004.

By virtually any standard, she is the most decorated amateur athlete in Southern Nevada history.

But many people forget that for one night she also was a member of the greatest pitching staff ever assembled in Las Vegas.

In 2002, Harrigan-Mack was inducted into the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame along with Greg Maddux, Mike Maddux and Mike Morgan, who combined to pitch in 60 major league seasons. Rodger Fairless, the high school baseball coach also enshrined that year, would have enjoyed setting up a rotation featuring those four.

“To sit in the crowd and have Greg Maddux mention me in his speech, I think my jaw dropped a little bit,” Harrigan-Mack said.

But she still is best known for making softball pitches that danced like Fred Astaire on butterfly wings.

Harrigan-Mack was born in Anaheim, California, but grew up on the UNLV softball diamond. The left-hander finished her college career as the Rebels’ all-time leader in wins, ERA, strikeouts, innings pitched, complete games, shutouts and no-hitters — and still holds each of those records almost 30 years after setting them.

With the Olympic teams, she appeared in six games and posted a 4-0 record without allowing a run. She yielded nine hits in 30 innings and pitched the first solo no-hitter in Olympic history, against Canada in 2000 during the Sydney Games.

“Those were some of the best years of my life,” said Harrigan-Mack, 49.

Golden memories

She said relationships made during her Olympic years will stay with her long after her medals stop shimmering.

“I have three gold medals, but at the same time the friendships and the family and the memories of how much fun we had, those are the things that stick out most,” Harrigan-Mack said.

“I was on the national team for 13 years. Coaches and administrators and teammates and just everybody you meet along the way … it was just an amazing time.”

She said she feels badly for the current national team, which has had to put its Olympic dream on hold. Softball recently was reinstated as an Olympic sport, only to have the Tokyo Games postponed amid spread of the coronavirus.

“I’m sure there are a lot of mixed emotions,” Harrigan-Mack said. “But at the same time, this is for the greater good. There’s still going to be an Olympics, and a gold medal is not going to replace your life. And it’s not going to slow this (virus) down, either.”

Harrigan-Mack said she never would have had one gold medal placed around her neck, much less three, were it not for the support she received at home. MGM Resorts International, which sponsored and employed her as a member of its security force and gave her time off to represent her country, was the biggest of her many benefactors.

She’s still working in local security, as director of safety and security for Soleil Management, with an office in Tahiti Village. She still gives softball lessons, or at least did before the pandemic. And she spends additional time on the pitcher’s mound throwing overhand to her 12-year-old son, Shawn, a member of last summer’s Paseo Verde Little League state championship team.

Shawn is an excellent ballplayer, mom says. But every now and then, she has to remind him that he’s not the only one in the family. And in her own special way.

“Every time he gets cocky, I give him a little chin music,” she said.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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