Enka rising junior Katie Grace Olinger acclimated quickly to softball in this state.
The University of North Carolina noticed.
Olinger has made an early verbal commitment to the Tar Heels with still two more years to go in the right-handed pitcher’s high school career.
“It’s a really exciting opportunity for me,” Olinger said.
“(UNC) has great facilities, a great coaching staff and great team chemistry. They had everything I was looking for, athletically and academically.”
Olinger moved from Florida to the Enka district for this past school year and fit in right away with the NCHSAA 3-A champions.
Olinger was responsible for exactly half (14) of the undefeated Sugar Jets’ school-record 28 wins and also had a save. Her crowning moment was a 5-1 decision over Northern Guilford in Game 1 of the 3-A state championship series on June 5 at UNC Greensboro.
Olinger earned All-Mountain Athletic Conference honors and maintained a 1.92 earned-run average with 88 strikeouts in 76.2 innings pitched. She hit .382 with eight RBIs, a home run and a double.
When she is in the circle, Olinger can throw at least a half-dozen pitches. But she said her choices for a college really came down to three schools, UNC, Pittsburgh and Virginia.
Olinger is the fifth member of the 3-A state champion Sugar Jets to make a college choice. The others are graduated seniors Jasmine Palmer (Florida State) and Jordan Harris (Appalachian State) as well as rising senior Courtney Pearson (Queens) and rising sophomore Kloyee Anderson (Alabama).
Olinger plays travel ball for the Carolina Elite out of South Carolina.
Enka’s state championship season was its first in 19 years and the first for any Buncombe County NCHSAA softball program since 2000.
“It’s been crazy,” Sugar Jets coach Jennifer Kruk said of the last month.
“Especially if you’re walking around and wearing anything that says ‘Enka’ on it. Someone told me the other day they’ve already sold $700 worth of state-championship shirts. Everyone has been so kind and it’s really been a great time for the girls. They’ve earned it.”