LAKE BUTLER In Olympia softball coach Stephanie Manny’s fourth year leading her program, there is one characteristic that she said differentiates this year’s team from those of years past.
This spring, the Titans broke out the bats.
Olympia (5-2) scored 97 runs through its first six games — an average of 16.2 runs per game. The Titans were shutout in a 2-0 defeat to East Ridge Feb. 23, which knocked that average down to 13.9 runs per game.
In a Metro Conference game against Ocoee Feb. 18, the Titans plated eight runs in both the third and fourth innings, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 16-2 victory in five innings.
“I can honestly say, in the four years I’ve been here, this is by far the best hitting team I’ve had,” Manny said after her Titans had finished off the Knights.
Helping to lead the way is senior center fielder Jessica Lien. In the game against Ocoee, Lien belted a home run in the third inning and tallied four RBI on the day.
“We’ve done a good job of just scoring early and getting ahead,” Lien said. “Our bats have really improved.”
Lien is one-third of a small but talented senior class for Olympia, along with Jill Chabot and Gabby Orland. It is a senior class that is near and dear to Manny.
“They’re the group that started with me when I started four years ago; we’ve actually come through the program together,” Manny said. “They’ve made a considerable difference in their leadership throughout the four years. … They’ve done a great job.”
Competing in a loaded district that includes powerhouses such as West Orange, Apopka and Lake Brantley, Manny acknowledges her team will be an underdog but said that’s not a bad place to be. Olympia’s first loss this season came at the hands of the Blue Darters, but Manny cites the semifinals of last season’s district tournament — where the Titans upset Apopka and earned a berth in the regional playoffs — as proof that her girls can overcome what has been a “mental block” in past years against elite programs.
“It showed that we’ve got it in us,” Manny said. “I think it’s anybody’s district.”
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].