Every team likes a pleasant surprise, and hot-playing freshmen can often bring a hoped-for boost to a softball lineup.
What Mansfield Lake Ridge has been the beneficiary of, though, is almost beyond that.
Left fielder and freshman Kylah Marzette is hitting .628 and has seven home runs in just 18 games. She’s also added 10 doubles and a .692 on-base percentage.
Those would be impressive stats for even a four-year starter.
Marzette is helping the Lady Eagles build toward a playoff spot this year after a drought over the last five seasons.
Marzette said her hitting has been a result of her natural strength and a retooled swing.
A routine in the weight room keeps her strength increasing, and her swing gets periodic tweaking from her personal hitting coach, John Davis, commonly referred to as Coach D.
In her previous play with select teams, Texas Fusion and most recently Texas Glory, Marzette said she just wasn’t putting the pieces together.
“There’s a lot wrong with my swing,” she said of the earlier approach at the plate. “I just couldn’t make contact. I would pop up or strike out a lot.”
She admits that even with a new swing, the performance in the batter’s box is more mental.
“I have to think about how I’m going to hit it,” Marzette said, “and then use my mechanics.”
The difference in translating mental preparation and mechanics is evident in her bat speed.
The mid-season success has evolved a bit slower than the speed of her swing, though.
“I was hoping for a season like this. It came to me as a bit of surprise, but then as the season developed, it became the norm,” Marzette said.
It’s quite a lofty “norm,” and whether she can maintain the standard remains to be seen. But if it does, Marzette could well become the fourth straight Newcomer of the Year from Lake Ridge.
The other three former NOY winners, Brittany Jackson, Kate Tovar and Brittni Rufus, are still teammates and have mentioned the possibility to Marzette, she said.
“I don’t focus on awards. I just focus on softball,” she said.
Maybe having others on the squad who also had such productive first seasons has helped Marzette transition to the varsity game easily.
She said coming in as a freshman wasn’t difficult, and the girls welcomed her with open arms.
Her familiarity with the game — she started playing at age 6 — may have something to do with the easy transition. Marzette said she was drawn to the game as a child and she stuck with it, feeling it will be a sport that may well take her to college in three years.
Marzette still acknowledges there’s plenty of areas for improvement, and she will continue to work on her speed around the bases and being able to get a better read on the ball as it comes off the bat while patrolling left field.
While Marzette may have been a surprise for Lake Ridge opponents thus far, the element of surprise is now long-gone.