When she first started playing softball, Amanda Clark struggled with her hitting.
It’s safe to say those struggles are a thing of the past.
“When I first started playing in sixth grade, I wasn’t very good at hitting, I was just OK, I wasn’t great at all,” said Clark, a 2016 St. Basil graduate. “I really liked playing so I went to a hitting coach and I got better. Eventually, I became a better hitter. I learned a lot and I also got a lot of confidence. I think that was a big part of it.”
Clark, a Bustleton resident, should be extremely confident these days.
The sophomore catcher at Gwynedd Mercy finished the season as the fourth-highest hitter in Division III, batting .527 with 12 doubles, five home runs and 44 RBIs. She also walked 10 times and scored 23 runs on the year in helping the Griffins enjoy a record-setting season.
Gwynedd Mercy finished the season with a 30–7 mark, setting a program record for wins in a season and winning percentage. The season came to an end one series short of making the Colonial States Athletic Conference championship series.
“We had a really great year,” said Clark, who made first-team All-Conference and second team All-Region after setting the school’s single-season marks for batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.
This year was Clark’s second year of playing college softball, but her first year at Gwynedd Mercy. Last year she attended William Paterson in Wayne, New Jersey, but she’s a lot happier being closer to home.
“I didn’t not like the school, but there wasn’t a lot to do out there except play softball,” Clark said. “But I really love Gwynedd Mercy. I love everything about it. It’s closer and there’s a lot to do. William Paterson just wasn’t a fit, but Gwynedd Mercy has been a perfect fit for me, both for school and softball.”
Especially softball. Last year, she hit .240 for the year. So, this year, she more than doubled her batting average.
“I think the biggest thing was, this year, I felt a lot more comfortable,” said Clark, who also saw time at first base this season. “Whenever I’m comfortable, I do better. I think any player is that way, but this year I felt so much more comfortable and I think that was a big reason for the better average.
“I spent a lot of time working on my hitting, too. I would work with my dad and I also worked with a great hitting coach. It helps. The more you work at it, the better you’re going to do.”
The jump Clark made was astonishing, but the scary part is Clark isn’t satisfied.
In fact, she’s working harder this summer than she did last summer. Sure, it won’t be possible for her to double her average again, but she’s convinced she can have an even better campaign next year.
That’s why she’s working every day to make sure she’s ready for 2019.
Not only does she want to continue to improve as a player, but she has even higher expectations for Gwynedd Mercy.
“Last year was great because our coach had high expectations, and we got better because of that,” Clark said. “We started out 1–1, but when we went to spring break (where the team traveled to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina) and after we got back from that, I just think we really became a stronger team.
“We got better (in Myrtle Beach) and when we got back, we were confident. We knew we could have a great season. I think this year makes us want to keep that work up. We lost some good seniors, but we have great players coming back.”
One is Clark’s battery mate, pitcher Melissa Hess, a St. Hubert grad who was named CSAC Pitcher of the Year.
“I played with her when we were in seventh and eighth grade, so we knew each other,” Clark said. “She had a great year. We had a great year as a team. I think we can even do better next year.”
Clark’s success didn’t end on the field.
She was a biology major and also took chemistry classes. She’s not sure if she’ll continue with that course of study, but she intends to continue to hit the books hards no matter which major she selects.
“Originally, I wanted to become a physical therapist, but I’m not sure if I’m going to keep doing that,” Clark said. “I love science, I like biology and chemistry. I have some time to figure things out.”
She’ll just keep working.
Just as she will on her hitting.
“I’ll work with my hitting coach, I’ll go to Sluggersville a few times and I’ll work with my dad,” Clark said. “I like doing it, and I like getting better. The more you work, the better you get.”