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Softball: Herman's final Owls season 'important for me to savor'

Westminster's Olivia Herman gets a hit in the third inning of the Owls' 9-5 win over Manchester Valley in Manchester Friday, April 13, 2018.
Westminster's Olivia Herman gets a hit in the third inning of the Owls' 9-5 win over Manchester Valley in Manchester Friday, April 13, 2018. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Olivia Herman just might be the biggest Caleb Joseph fan around, aside from the Baltimore Orioles catcher's immediate family.

Herman follows his every move when she's not busy playing softball. The two have met a few times in recent years, and Herman keeps a story he once told her close to her heart.

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When Joseph was in the minor leagues, Herman recalled, he didn't have cable at home to watch baseball so he frequented the clubhouse after his games ended to take advantage of the facilities. Joseph said he polished cleats and helped with laundry, anything to stick around and soak in his experience.

Herman said she was taken with Joseph's humility and dedication to the sport he loves.

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"He's really like an idol for me because he's so humble," Herman said. "It's really humbling to hear his story and think about how, hey, this guy has worked his way up. It's really important for me to sit there and listen to his story, listen to what he has to say."

Herman has tried to apply Joseph's discipline and approach to her game, which has been at the varsity level at Westminster High School for the last three years. She's one of Carroll County's top softball players, and next year she's headed to Lynchburg College, in central Virginia, to play at the Division III level.

First things first, though. Herman said she wants to make the most of her final high school season — and that means doing everything she can to help mentor an Owls roster that features 10 sophomores, one freshman, and no juniors.

"It's important for me to savor it, because it's not always just about the stats and everything," Herman said ."It's about how you go out on the field and you have fun. If you don't have fun, there's no reason for you to play. … It's just really important to help out those younger girls, because they look up to you a lot."

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Herman makes it easy to be the one to whom those younger girls look up. Westminster's catcher, one of the team's three seniors, is a two-time Times first-team all-county selection.

The Owls won a Class 3A state title in 2016, and Herman held her own as a sophomore. She batted .420 with 10 doubles, three home runs, and 15 RBIs.

Last spring, Herman led Carroll in batting average with a .526 clip, and added four homers, a county-high 12 doubles, and 25 RBIs.

Westminster's Olivia Herman celebrates with teammate Bailey Whalen after she scored in the third inning of the Owls' 9-5 win over Manchester Valley in Manchester Friday, April 13, 2018.
Westminster's Olivia Herman celebrates with teammate Bailey Whalen after she scored in the third inning of the Owls' 9-5 win over Manchester Valley in Manchester Friday, April 13, 2018. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

"She's a solid player," said Owls coach April Sexton, who assumed varsity duties at the start of this season but has been in the program for several years with junior varsity. "She has always been one of those you can count on in the clutch."

Herman, now the team's captain, took a .533 average into Friday's county matchup with Manchester Valley, then added a three-run triple and two hits in Westminster's 9-5 victory.

She launched a home run Saturday in the Owls' 11-1 loss to Chesapeake.

The Owls had a tough 2017 campaign and mustered a mere five wins, but Herman said this year is off to a better start (3-3, 3-2 in the Carroll County Athletic League). And she's talking about more than just wins and losses.

"I've been really trying to keep everyone upbeat," she said. "We just have fun. We go through the drills, fun. We play music on the bus rides. We all have our inside jokes with each other. We're a very low-drama team. Everybody gets along with each other. So it has been really, really nice."

Westminster catcher Olivia Herman snags a pitch during the Class 3A state final at Robert E. Taylor Field in College Park on May 29, 2016.
Westminster catcher Olivia Herman snags a pitch during the Class 3A state final at Robert E. Taylor Field in College Park on May 29, 2016. (Scott Serio / For the Carroll County Times)

Sexton said having Herman in the program has been a big plus. Herman spends most of her time behind the plate, but has used her skills in the outfield and third base. She was one of three utility players on the Times' all-county first team last season.

Being diverse and willing to do what's necessary to benefit her team is something Herman said she takes from Joseph.

It was at a Frederick Keys game where Herman and Joseph connected through his story, she said. It might have also helped that Herman was wearing a custom-made Caleb Joseph jersey — "I'm the only person in the whole world who probably has one," she said.

Joseph gave Herman his autograph but called her back over when he noticed her jersey, she said, and the two got a chance to chat.

The conversation has made a lasting impression on Herman, who is trying to finish her Owls career strong.

"I would like to think it has been pretty successful," Herman said. "I just try to do my best to go out there and help my team out. It's all about big picture."

pat.stoetzer@carrollcountytimes.com

410-857-7894

twitter.com/carrollvarsity

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