By almost any measure, Olympic High senior Lauryn Whitted is having the softball season of her life.
She hits .647 and has 11 home runs and 44 RBIs. She is among the top 70 nationally in home runs and RBIs. And she is in the top three in North Carolina in each category. In fact, she trails Alexander Central’s Brittney Krider by one RBI, but has done it in five fewer games.
Olympic beat West Mecklenburg 7-0 in the first round of the SoMeck 8 softball tournament Monday at Providence High. The Trojans (15-5) will play Providence or Berry in the semifinals later this week.
“Yes, she’s having an awesome season,” said Olympic coach Jeremy Gooden. “Her focus and her drive and her dedication to be better and make her teammates better is really unmatched this year.
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“She’s a team leader, a vocal leader and leads by example on the field. She’s just a strong player.”
Heading into the season, Whitted - who will play at Alabama State next season - had five career home runs and 68 career RBIs. She said she was determined to change her athletic trajectory.
“I was all-conference and rookie of the year as a freshman,” she said, “but from that point on, sophomore and junior year, I wish I would’ve put in a lot more work.”
Whitted said she wanted to play in college and to leave a mark at her school. To get there, she said she worked harder than ever before on the field and in the classroom once her junior year ended. She’s made either Olympic’s A honor roll or A/B honor roll throughout this school year.
“It’s my senior year,” she said. “It’s my last chance.”
To prepare for what she hoped was a bust-out season, Whitted rarely took a day off. That’s still the case. One day last week, for example, she got off her job at the Steele Creek Harris Teeter at 10 p.m., but instead of going home, she asked her father to take her to hit softballs. She spent 90 minutes in the batting cage working on her craft.
Whitted’s coach said her dedication and hard work is paying off.
“She’s grown so much mentally,” Gooden said. “She doesn’t chase a lot of pitches outside of her zone and her mechanics are really sound. I’ve coached her four years. She’s grown as a player and a person.
“She’s really pulled herself together and is the total package now. I’m proud to coach her, and Alabama State is going to receive one heckuva ball player.”
Wertz: 704-358-5133; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr