Buckeye’s Top Panther: Olivia Henry helps Lady Panthers’ clinch back-to-back titles
DEVILLE, La. (KALB) - Buckeye’s Olivia Henry has become one of the most well-known pitchers across the state, leading the Lady Panthers to the state title game in back-to-back seasons. Both resulted in bringing home the title.
Being ranked in the top 10 of the best in the circle comes with a little pressure, alongside her team being atop the softball world.
“I learned to trust in my talent and even to ignore the nerves,” said Henry. “God’s got this and that I don’t need to let things get bigger than they are. If we did it one time, we can do it again.”
When Olivia is not suited for a game, she is preparing whatever it takes to get another win.
“I would text my pitching coach and say, ‘I got a game Thursday and need to get a lesson Tuesday before so I can dial everything in,’” said Henry.
“I have had some good pitchers in my career, but I have never had any that have taken the extra effort,” said Lady Panthers’ head coach Justin Kees. “She is in the gym some mornings at 5:30 in the morning at LCU working out, then she comes to class, does two hours of practice here, goes to pitching lessons and works on stuff. She and Sidney stay and work on things in the cages here. She does everything she can to try to get just a little bit better.”
Most batters who face Henry result in three strikes and you are out, as she is the sixth-best in the state.
“I would be scared,” said Lady Panthers’ infielder MaKinley Miller. “I just feel like they are probably thinking how I am going to get a hit? She has all kinds of different pitches, and they never know what is going to be thrown.”
“The third strike, honestly, is one of the best feelings as a catcher,” said Lady Panthers’ catcher Sidney St. Pe. “Especially when it is the third strike, when it is two outs and you get to run back to the dugout, and it happens a lot. It is less stressful when you have a pitcher as good as her.”
In the title game against Vandebilt Catholic, Henry recorded five strikeouts and made the game-winning play, which earned her the most outstanding player.
“I think the best of Olivia Henry is still ahead of her,” said Kees. “She is going to go work this summer and fall to get better, and that is the reason why we know we have a chance every year to make a run for the title because we have people like Olivia Henry in the circle.”
For the way she has helped the Lady Panthers capture back-to-back state titles, Olivia Henry is this week’s ACA Athlete of the Week.
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