Genoa graduate Olivia Reeder received more accolades in high school than she can probably count, but she was never named the Comets’ most valuable player in basketball or soccer, despite scoring more career goals than any girl in Genoa soccer history.
It wasn’t as if Reeder didn’t deserve her team’s MVP award, it’s just that Genoa never gave out that particular award.
|Owens MVP Olivia Reeder.|
That’s what makes this season that much sweeter for the Owens Community College sophomore catcher, who was recently named the team’s MVP by the Express coaches.
“I definitely try to be an asset on the team, but I wasn’t expecting it or shooting for it,” Reeder said of the award. “I play to help my team. I was truly happy and it was a great honor to know my coaches and, hopefully, my teammates view me as a most valuable player. I’ve definitely been better with my bat this year. I definitely feel more confident, especially at the plate.”
Owens softball coach Duane Lanham, whose team opened NJCAA Division II regional tournament play on Wednesday, said there were a few criteria for naming the MVP this season, including statistics.
“We looked at the importance of Olivia’s position on our team, since she was our only catcher, and her vast improvement from the offensive side this year versus last year,” Lanham said. “She made great improvement there. We have a freshman pitcher (Cardinal Stritch grad Katie Turski) and Olivia did a great job working with her. From a (pitcher-catcher) battery standpoint, she controlled that whole situation. And, she’s a good student.”
In 36 games Reeder, who has a 3.48 GPA, is batting .342 with 11 doubles, one home run, one triple, 36 RBI, 22 runs and seven stolen bases. The Express went into regional play with a 21-15 record and finished second (8-4) in the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference.
“I’m proud of my team and what we’re doing,” Reeder said, “and I’m looking forward to regionals.”
The 5-foot-1 Reeder showed a marked improvement at the plate this season after starting 37 games at catcher last season. She batted .185 with 12 runs, two doubles, one triple, four RBI and 10 walks as a freshman. She credits Express hitting coach Kevin Snyder for helping her figure things out.
“I work a lot with Coach Snyder,” she said. “He worked with me a lot and helped me transfer my weight (at the plate). That was my biggest problem. I was too far back. Over the winter I just got into the repetition of it and really came around. He was patient with me on that.”
While Lanham was impressed with Reeder’s improvement on the field, he was just as pleased with her demeanor off the field.
“She’s one of our leaders,” the coach said. “She accepted that role and did a great job. She’s a pleasure to have. She does her job, she knows what her job is and she demonstrates the leadership role and shows what the kids need to do. If you have someone where you say, ‘This is what I want you to be like,’ that would be her.”
Reeder said a lot of her leadership role comes with the territory.
“I feel like as a catcher, on the field you have to be a leader and be in command,” she said. “You’re the only one who can see the entire field and you have to take control and be vocal. I try to be a leader and be an example off the field. The catcher has to fill that type of role.”
Reeder, who stayed relatively healthy this season despite the pounding a catcher takes, relishes her role as a kind of mentor to Turski, who is Owens’ No. 1 pitcher. Turski is 17-7 with a 4.02 ERA, with 18 complete games in 26 starts.
“She’s improved tremendously from last fall to now, even from the beginning of the season to now,” Reeder said. “She’s just a hard worker and I admire that so much from her. She always wants to pitch some more, and she’s never complained even after pitching almost every game. I think that’s what makes us so good together, that we respect each other and trust each other.”
Reeder’s eligibility at Owens ends this season, but she could possibly play for the University of Toledo in a few months.
“I’m going to summer nursing school at UT, and it’s possible I will be playing there next year,” she said. “It’s in the talks still, but there’s a good chance. I’m either going to play for UT or I’m not playing.”