Why this is 'redemption week' for Buckeye softball two-sport star Olivia Henry
DEVILLE – Buckeye sophomore Olivia Henry remembers how last year ended when she needed an out to send her team to the LHSAA softball state quarterfinals.
Henry could only watch as she allowed an RBI single, a walk and a two-run triple as Iota upset the Lady Panthers, 5-4.
“We were talking about it all week — this is redemption week,” Henry said. “This is where we come back. Every time we thought about it, it just killed us on the inside.”
Exactly a year later, it was a different story as Henry struck out the side in the top of the seventh to give Buckeye a 5-1 win over Mamou in the Class 3A regionals Thursday. Buckeye will travel to No. 2 seed Lutcher in the quarterfinals Saturday for a chance to go to Sulphur.
“She kept us in it throughout — from the first pitch to the end,” Lady Panthers coach Justin Kees said. “For it to end on a strikeout, it couldn’t have been better than that for her.”
Henry has played a key role in the Lady Panthers’ success with her pitching as she had 122 strikeouts, a 2.68 ERA, 13 wins and two saves.
Equally as impressive has been her hitting with a .404 batting average and 33 RBIs. Against Tioga on Feb. 18, she struck out seven batters in nine innings and had a base hit to drive in the winning run.
“She put in the extra effort (after that loss last year),” Kees said. “We worked since that point to get back and it starts with Liv in the circle. She wanted this.”
Fueled by that moment last year, she went to work and played travel ball for Louisiana Voodoo Allen’s 16U squad during the summer and fall and saw her game grow from her freshman year. Along with that came a never-ending work ethic.
“Every day, I was like, ‘I’m so ready for softball season,’” Henry said. “Sometimes, I feel like breaks aren’t even a thing, because I’m just like, ‘Oh, I want to get some reps off the tee, today.’ It just feels good to go and work and see the fruits of my labor.”
It has been a busy spring for Henry, as she also led Buckeye to the District 3-3A title in track and field by placing first in the pole vault with a clearance of 7 feet, 10 inches on Wednesday.
While Henry said softball is the easiest and the more natural of the two for her, being around the people and the atmosphere keeps her hooked on track and field.
“My coach asks me every time after a meet, ‘Well, did you have fun?’, Henry said. “That’s just the main goal whenever I go out there. I just can’t sit at home. I just like to be active.”
Buckeye’s last trip to the state tournament came in 2019 under former coach Darlene Wiley, but Henry believes it has a chance to end that drought if she continues to play well and the offense stays in a groove.
“I think we can accomplish anything that we put our minds to,” Henry said. “If our bats are hot, I don’t think anyone can stop us.”