It was in the middle of gym class last year when Moorestown softball head coach Bill Mulvihill was first introduced to the freshman he would rely on heavily throughout the 2020-’21 season.
Violet Marta, a softball player for much of her life before reaching Moorestown High School, was eager to make the team and help however she could. Fortunately for the Quakers, all Marta did was pitch 64 of 82 innings last season, striking out 63 opposing batters while allowing just 17 earned runs.
She also recorded the third-most hits on the team and third-most RBIs while hitting in the heart of the lineup, a tremendous amount of responsibility for a freshman.
But according to Mulvihill, she didn’t play like one.
“She came in and didn’t throw like you’d expect a freshman to,” Mulvihill said. “She had a lot of control of her pitches and was really poised on the mound despite her age. Whether the other team was hitting her or not in a given game, nothing ever really got to her, she never changed her demeanor.”
So Mulvihill and his assistant coaches were understandably excited to see what Marta would do as she got older and more comfortable at the high-school level. Now in her sophomore year, Marta has continued to grow and take on even more responsibility, both in the lineup and on the mound for Moorestown.
Through the first 14 games this season, the Quakers are 9-5, in large part due to Marta’s presence both in the lineup and on the mound. Having pitched 83 innings so far, she recently reached her 100th strikeout on the year, while also leading the team with 21 hits, 11 runs scored, 21 RBIs and four home runs.
Adjusting from travel to high-school softball last year was slightly challenging at first due to the age gap, according to Marta. In preparing for her freshman season last year, she expected to battle for the starting pitching job, but after the first practice, Marta realized what was best for the team would be evident before the first game of the season, and she looked forward to helping however she could.
“I immediately thought that the one senior that I knew pitched was going to be my enemy going into the season, because I wanted that job,” Marta said. “I kept telling myself that I had to get ready and try to impress the coaches to show I should pitch. But she actually wanted to play first base over pitching anyway, so after that, I was able to relax a lot more than I expected.”
Marta didn’t stray too far from throwing strictly fastballs and changeups last year, but looked forward to adding more pitches to her repertoire as a sophomore. She added three new pitches to her arsenal this season.
In terms of her value to the team, Mulvihill said it’s not hard to describe.
“Since day one this season, she’s been the complete player,” he said. “She’s leading the team in hits and RBIs while pitching almost every game. She’s doing everything for us.
“She’s having a great year.”
Having excelled at such a young age with the program, Marta has the opportunity to break a few records before her time with the Quakers is up. According to Mulvihill, Moorestown has only two softball players who have recorded at least 100 hits: Caroline Muccifori with 112 (2014-’17) and Erika Heffernen with 106 (2017-’19).
Regardless of individual accomplishments, Marta is focused on the team of mostly sophomores growing together. After a 13-10 record last year, Moorestown has a good opportunity to surpass last season’s final record.
“I definitely thought we were going to do better this season than we were last year,” Marta said. “Last year, it felt like a lot of us younger girls on the team were still getting comfortable out there because we were freshmen.
“We had the chance to learn from a few seniors last year and we’re putting to use what they taught us.”