Female Athlete of the Week: Change in approach helps Mantz

Alex Mantz   Rich Cooley/Daily

Alex Mantz Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK – Alex Mantz wasn’t satisfied with how she had been hitting the ball, so last week she decided to change her approach at the plate – and it paid off for her and her teammates.

The Central freshman had her first career homer, a triple and four RBIs in a big 8-1 softball victory over William Monroe on April 26.

“It was my best game this whole season,” Mantz said. “I think this was the best game for all of us. I think it was definitely our best game. I had a different mindset when I got into the box.”

Mantz said she had been striking out in some of the previous games, and she decided to have a more positive attitude at the plate.

“The first ball I had was a strike. The batting coach I’ve been working with, she said think as if you have two strikes left and just think positive through it,” Mantz said.

Mantz said that approach helped her at the plate. In a scoreless game in the bottom of the fifth, Mantz had an RBI triple to put the Falcons in front.

One inning later, Mantz hit a three-run homer, to put the game out of reach.

“She did very well. She just went up and did her thing,” Central coach Lisa Rhodes said. “She’s got a great stick. She’s right in the meat of the lineup, where she should be and she did her thing.”

Mantz’s big day helped her earn The Northern Virginia Daily’s Female Athlete of the Week for the week of April 25-May 1.

Mantz is the only freshman on the team and said she’s adjusted well to the varsity level. She is hitting .308 (12 for 39), which is second on the team. She has one homer, four doubles, eight RBIs and 11 runs scored.

“This has been the best season of softball I’ve played,” Mantz said. “… I’ve been playing with some of these girls since Little League, so it’s been good.”

She plays travel ball with the Virginia Glory, based out of Fairfax. Mantz said all of the other players on her team are from the Fairfax-D.C. area, but she enjoys playing with players from other schools.

One of the things that has made Mantz a valuable asset to Central has been her versatility. Mantz said she plays in the outfield and at shortstop for her travel team. For Central this season, she has played all over the place.

“There have been a lot of opportunities to move her around and see where she can contribute to the team,” Rhodes said. “She’s got a lot of flexibility. She gives her team a lot.”

Mantz said she played different positions in the outfield and at second base earlier in the year. The last few weeks she has been the team’s catcher, which she said is her favorite position.

“I just feel like that’s my safe place,” Mantz said. “I think I’m more aggressive in that spot. It teaches me to communicate more — when the catcher stands behind the plate and yells out plays and where to go. I like being able to talk and take control of the field.”

Rhodes said one of the reasons they like putting her there is because of how aware she is of what’s happening on the field.

“(Central assistant) coach (Mike) Hunt said it best. He said her antenna are always up,” Rhodes said. “She’s always looking around to see what’s going on. She’s always in tune.”

The Falcons have won three straight games, after suffering their second loss of the season a few weeks ago. Today, they play at Clarke County and will look to avenge a loss to the Eagles from earlier in the season.

“I’m really excited to see how they respond,” Rhodes said. “Clarke was a rough loss, and I’m really hoping that we bring our ‘A’ game (today) and we go to the field ready to play some serious ball. Clarke’s always been a serious program. You’re never going to lack in competition when you face them. Bring our ‘A’ game is key (today).”

Mantz said she’s excited to see what the Falcons do the rest of the season, and she feels like they’re playing well right now.

“We’ve been doing a lot better on the field than what we had been doing,” Mantz said. “… Communication has gotten a lot better too.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com

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