Junior right-handed pitcher Samantha Manti was named West Coast Conference Softball Pitcher of the Week on Monday, March 25, for her performance for the week of March 18. Manti recorded three straight wins over Harvard, Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State, notching 17 strikeouts and allowing just 11 hits and six runs. This is Manti’s first year at LMU after transferring from the University of Washington. Asst. Sports Editor Jameson O’Neil caught up with Manti to discuss her strong season.
Jameson O’Neil (JO): Overall, how has this season been going thus far?
Samantha Manti (SM): We’ve had some ups and downs, but it’s been a good learning experience for everyone. We have three transfers and I’m one of them, and we have a pretty big freshman class. So we all have been trying to get to know each other, learn more about each other and become a cohesive team. I think we had a good schedule and were able to learn a lot. I'm excited to start conference [play].
JO: How have you adjusted to a new school and new program?
SM: It’s definitely been hard, but in a good way. I knew it was going to be different. I was definitely surprised with some things I struggled with, but it’s been better than I could have imagined or expected, and I'm definitely happy I’m immersed in it. It was definitely an adjustment, as expected, but it's been nothing but good things so far.
JO: What do you think you have been doing well recently that has led to your strong performances?
SM: We talk a lot [here] about the whole team working pitch-to-pitch. I just really love that, working pitch-to-pitch –– it kind of just works for everything in life, not just softball, like trying to be in the moment completely. I think I struggled with that a little bit at the beginning of the season, because it was a new program and I had new people behind me, and I think I’m finally starting to actually be able to work and do that. That’s been a big difference I've seen in the last couple weeks.
JO: What would you say is the biggest difficulty or roadblock of the team so far this spring?
SM: Trying to play in the moment. I think sometimes we’ll struggle in a certain inning, but [it will] change the pace of the game, and so I think sometimes we get a little ahead of ourselves. [We try to] play pitch-to-pitch and inning-to-inning [because] a game isn’t won and lost in one moment of one play. It's a much bigger stage that we’re playing on.
JO: What do you personally want to focus on this spring?
SM: Trying to be more efficient. Sometimes I get behind in counts, or I’ll get to 0-2 and then they get a hit. The less batters you can face the better, so [it's about focusing on] being more efficient. If I do get to a 0-2 count, [I want to] finish right then and there, and not throw two or three more pitches and fall behind [in the count]. Even though I may get them out, I [may] pitch like five or six more pitches than I needed to.