Leadoff hitters set the tone for the game, and Keyla Oliveras of Springfield Renaissance High School in Springfield, Mass., is ideal for the job. She's speedy, she gets on base, she leads by example—and she's her team's top pitcher. She's also a leader in the classroom, maintaining a 3.84 GPA. STACK talked with Oliveras about her intense training and what she wants to accomplish this season.
STACK: Now that you're a senior, how do you plan to lead your team?
Keyla Oliveras: I lead through action. I take it upon myself to set the tone for the rest of my team. I remain positive and lift up my teammates regardless of what's happening in the game.
What did you want to improve before the season?
My strength. Because I'm a slapper [a player who "slaps" the ball in play and uses her speed to reach base], the defense likes to move in on me. So getting stronger will help me drive balls for extra-base hits.
What's your training like?
I train four times a week, focusing on my shoulders, triceps, forearms, quads and hamstrings. I incorporate a lot of power bands into my workouts because they offer dynamic resistance. I hit all of the big lifts—Power Cleans, Deadlifts, Bench Press. Speed is very important for a slapper, so keeping my legs strong is a must.
Sounds like a lot of work. What do you eat to support it?
I stopped eating fast food about a year ago. I think it's one of the worst things you can eat. I try to eat four times a day—usually eggs in the morning with some other protein, a salad or a sandwich with some fruit for lunch, and then my mom is a great cook, so dinner usually consists of some sort of chicken and pasta or rice. I snack on Nature Valley or Fiber One bars and oranges throughout the day.
What colleges are you considering?
I've heard from several D-III schools. I'm looking for a small school where I can be involved in the community and get to know both students and professors on a personal level.
Who's an athlete you look up to?
Dustin Pedroia. I love the passion and effort he shows on the field. He's always giving his best no matter what the score, and he puts the team before himself. (Watch the video above to learn more about Pedroia's approach to the game.)
LEARN & APPLY: Call Your Shot
There are more than 3,000 four-year colleges in the U.S., so no one can see or visit them all. That's why it's critical to think about what you're looking for at the next level. Oliveras knows she wants to attend a small, in-state school with a tight-knit community. Ask yourself: Do you want to stay close to home? Would you prefer a big- or small-school setting? And what are you interested in studying? Knowing the answers will help you narrow your search and achieve success.
Strength in Numbers
Want proof of Oliveras's effectiveness? Check out her stats from last season.
.647 On Base Percentage
.489 Batting Average
41 Runs Scored
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock