High School Sports

‘I think I’m pretty fast’: Arroyo Grande High senior brings track speed to softball

Sam Oliver’s speed on the basepaths helped the Arroyo Grande High School softball team beat Lompoc in a CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoff game Thursday.
Sam Oliver’s speed on the basepaths helped the Arroyo Grande High School softball team beat Lompoc in a CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoff game Thursday. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Sam Oliver’s normally gleaming white softball uniform was a distinct shade of brown by the conclusion of Arroyo Grande High School’s 9-2 victory Thursday over Lompoc in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 softball playoffs.

The leadoff hitter went 3 for 4, with three infield singles, and scored each time she reached base, using her speed — and willingness to get dirty — to do it.

“Honestly, on the bases, I want to be as aggressive as I can,” Oliver said. “Being the first batter, I want to test their catcher’s arm. My first at bat is supposed to show everyone what the pitcher’s doing.”

Speed has become Oliver’s signature asset this spring, and it’s led to success on the diamond and in a new sport for the senior — track and field.

On Thursday, Oliver used her speed — and senior savvy — to go from first to third base twice in the game. In the first inning, Lauryn Schaffer laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Oliver over. In the process, she saw a vacant third base and took it. It led to the Eagles’ first run.

The second time, Oliver went first to third on two Lompoc throwing errors and later scored on a fly out. She scored again from third on a dropped strike three.

It’s little wonder that this year Oliver decided to run track in addition to playing softball in the spring. First, she had to run it by softball head coach John Welch.

“Sam came to me this year and said, ‘Coach John, I think I’m pretty fast,’ ” Welch said. “I said, ‘I know you’re fast.’ She asked, ‘Would it be OK if I went over and practiced with the track team?’ 

Oliver was able to do both, practicing with the track team during her sixth period and then going over to the diamond once softball practice started.

“My senior year, I wanted to do everything, and have no regrets in high school,” said Oliver, who will be attending Grand Canyon University in the fall. “I had a great experience with the track team, they’re great people.

“It was tough at the beginning, I’m not going to lie,” she said laughing. “I would go to bed at 8 every night.”

Oliver ran the 100 and 200 meters, the 4x100 relay, and on her first try in the long jump placed second at the PAC 8 league finals, qualifying for CIF.

“Sam is just a phenomenal athlete,” Welch said. “As a leadoff batter, that’s what we’ve told her, ‘Your job is to get on base and score runs.’ And she’s so quick. If they make one blunder, she’s taking an extra base.”

Oliver also had a highlight play in the field in the fifth inning to help out senior pitcher Julie Lewis, making a headlong diving catch from her centerfield position. Lewis finished with eight strikeouts.

Senior Kacie Burger was 2 for 4 with a two-run homer, Lewis had two RBI, and both Schaffer and Logan Nunes had one RBI.

The Eagles (19-7) will face Knight (16-17) in Palmdale on Tuesday in the second round.

CIF-Southern Section baseball and softball playoff scoreboard


First round, Thursday

Paso Robles 7, Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary 1 (Division 3)

Atascadero 8, Garey 0 (Division 5)

Templeton 2, Loara 1 (Division 5)

Coast Union 4, Trinity Classical Academy 3 (Division 7)

Second round, Tuesday

Poly (Riverside) at Paso Robles, 3:15 p.m.

Atascadero vs. Katella in Anaheim, 3:15 p.m.

Templeton at La Canada, 3:15 p.m.

Coast Union at Einstein Academy (Santa Clarita), 3:15 p.m.


First round, Thursday

Arroyo Grande 9, Lompoc 2 (Division 3)

Crescenta Valley 10, Paso Robles 0 (Division 3)

SLO High 8, El Segundo 3 (Division 4)

Templeton 20, Alhambra 2 (Division 5)

Santa Ynez 13, Coast Union 0 (Division 7)

Second round, Tuesday

Arroyo Grande at Knight (Palmdale), 3:15 p.m.

SLO High at Beckman Arnold (Irvine), 3:15 p.m.

Templeton at Godinez, 3:15 p.m.