‘Quick Quintet’ helps softball team power one of Cincy’s most efficient offenses
Eric Miller | Sports Editor
The old adage is that speed kills, and for the Mason softball team, speed has helped them average 10 runs per game while winning six games by run rule.
In their everyday starting lineup, the Comets start four “slappers” who, in the majority of their at bats, will try to put down some form of a bunt and use their exceptional speed to reach base. Head Coach Liann Muff said there are five girls on her roster that have the potential to cover the 60 feet to first base in a scorching 2.6 seconds.
“At their fastest, Olivia Popovich, Abbey Mullins, Tori O’Brien, Sydney Carter and Carsyn Snead have that potential (to run 2.6 seconds),” Muff said. “Anything under three seconds is pretty darn good; their level is exceptional. They’re fast, and we utilize it. We use the short game a lot.”
The ‘short game’ has been key to helping the Comets to early season success. Off to a 9-1 start, the Comets have scored 93 runs in just 10 games. In 10-0 win over Middletown on April 5, the Comets recorded seven hits with five coming on infield singles from their slappers. Muff said even though it was not their best offensive day, the Comets were able to be successful offensively because of their slappers.
“We didn’t feel like we hit the ball that well (against Middletown),” Muff said. “But our quality at bats were at 72 percent, and a lot of that is because the short gamers are so effective. They’re putting the ball in play, making the defense rush and make mistakes.”
Sophomore Tori O’Brien leads the Comets in batting average at .583 but freshman Sydney Carter is not far behind at .533. Carter and O’Brien have on base percentages (OBP) of .650 and .615, respectively, which puts them both in the top 10 in OBP in the Greater Miami Conference for players with more than 10 at bats. Muff said getting their short gamers on base is key to the Comets’ offense.
“Number one is you have to put the ball in play, and they do that consistently,” Muff said. “Their speed rushes the defense so much so that even if the defense makes a clean play, they can still beat it out. More often than not, the defense hesitates or bobbles or makes a bad throw just because they’re rushing.”
Sophomore Tori O’Brien looks to lay down a bunt in a 10-0 win over Middletown on April 5.
Senior Olivia Popovich has 81 hits in her varsity career and none of them have been for extra bases. All 81 hits have been singles, yet Popovich has been top 15 in runs scored in the GMC each of the last two years, proving that speed really does kill.
Once the Comets’ ‘Fast Five’ reach base, their job is to create havoc. Of the 27 bases the Comets have stolen, the ‘Fast Five’ of Popovich, Mullins, O’Brien, Snead and Carter has stolen 25. Muff said she wants to see all baserunners be aggressive, but especially her fastest five.
“We try to stress aggressive but smart situational baserunning, and for the most part, we’ve been doing that pretty well.,” Muff said. “We’re young, amongst those kids, and once in a while, they’ll make a mistake being too aggressive, but you talk about it, learn from it and move on. Getting that group of five on base can just put so much pressure on the defense.”
Photo by Tanner Pearson.