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April 23, 2024

Mashing Mancinis

Sisters Marleigh and Sela crushing the ball for Bayou

By Andy Collier

Sports Editor, The Bolivar Bullet

One thing sports can do is give family members something to share and cherish with each other. 

For many people, particularly in families, a sport can be something that helps people bond even closer. 

Senior outfielder Marleigh Mancini and her younger sister sophomore first baseman Sela Mancini definitely share a love for softball as they are currently standout players on the Bayou Academy softball team.  

They’ve each produced big hits and driven in key runs to help lead the Lady Colts earn a berth in the Midsouth Association of Independent Schools 5A State Softball Tournament at Magee which is scheduled to start on Saturday (Oct. 1). The Lady Colts, who finished second in District 1-5A during the regular season, are currently 21-8 and will be the No. 3 seed heading into state tournament.

The Mancini sisters’ ability to hit the ball has enabled them to put up some big numbers. After Saturday’s action in the 5A North State Softball Tournament at Magee, Marleigh was hitting .420 with three home runs, 34 runs scored and 32 RBIs, while Sela was hitting .421 with four home runs, 26 RBIs and 33 runs scored.

With this being Marleigh’s last year, she is focused on playing her best right to the end. 

“It’s sad it’s coming to an end, but it just makes us want to keep playing harder toward the end of our season,” said Marleigh. 

At the beginning of the year, Sela started off hot, while Marleigh got off to a slow start. 

Marleigh was well aware of the success younger sister was having at the start of the year. 

“Riding back with our mom in the car, it’s like I didn’t get on base at all and Sela went 3-for-3 or whatever it was,” said Marleigh. “It was the kind of pressure you have when your younger sister is doing better than you. It definitely made me what to step up a little bit.”

As the year progressed, Marleigh found her stroke as she hit grand slam home runs in two straight games. During some of the games Marleigh hit well, Sela went hitless.

For Sela, it can be tough when she’s slumping and her sister is doing well, but she keeps things in perspective. 

“It’s kind of hard when your sister is doing good, but you still have to be happy for her because it is her last year,”  said Sela. “I’m definitely going to be happy for her, but we kind of build off each other mostly.”

Over the last few games, the Mancini sisters have been hitting well at the right time. 

“It feels good, because you’re both happy and content about your hitting,” said Sela. “We know it helps the team, so it makes us all feel better.”

When the girls began to talk a little bit about playing softball growing up, they had fond memories. Both girls began their softball careers at a young age. They played tee ball and coach pitch at the park commission when they were little and played a lot of travel ball softball as they got older in the summer. 

Marleigh was the first one that started playing travel softball, but Sela wasn’t far behind.

“We had a travel ball team named The Delta Blaze,” said Marleigh. “Sela wasn’t old enough to play yet, but she was our bat girl. She got in one game. She went to all of the practices and everything.”

Sela said the history the girls have with each other playing softball serves them well as they work to be better players for Bayou. 

“I kind of just followed whatever Marleigh did,” said Sela. “I think since we both did the same sport, it was easier to get better so we could always help each other on stuff.”

Marleigh made a verbal commitment to play softball at Northwest Community College early this year. 

Marleigh said making that decision early made her work that much harder during the season.

“It makes you think more,” said Marleigh. “I not only have to do it for Bayou, but I also have to do it for the Northwest coach and the teammates I’m going to have in the future. You still have to work to get better for the future.”

Bayou Head Softball Coach Lauren LaSuzzo said Marleigh and Sela are highly dedicated players. 

“They work,” said LaSuzzo. “They are always putting in extra time before and after practice. In our line-up, I have confidence in all of our hitters that they’re going to put the ball in play. With them, they’ve had that pop all year. At any moment if a pitcher makes a mistake, it could end up over the fence. It’s always good to have one of those hitters on your team. To have two hitters like that and for both of them to be sisters is special.”

Sela would love for the Lady Colts to be able to win a state championship with this being Marleigh’s last year. 

“It would make me happy especially doing it for her,” said Sela. “I’m doing it for the whole team and the program, but it would make it very good.”

Marleigh wants nothing more than to wrap up her high school career on a winning note.

“I definitely want to end on a win and the only way to do that would be a state championship,” said Marleigh. “I don’t want to finish out my last season on a bad game where we didn’t play good. I just want the last time we play together to be a really good, competitive game where we all did our best.”