Summer Spotlight Series: Merritt talks slap hitting

·2 min read

Jul. 16—LUMBERTON — In softball, what makes a good slap hitter?

Why not ask the best one around.

Lumberton's Aniya Merritt, a rising junior, has developed a reputation as one of the speediest players around — and one who uses slap hits to her advantage frequently, discussing this on the latest edition of the Inside Sports Summer Spotlight Series at

"Usually if the defense plays back, I might try to soft slap or bunt; bunting is a big part of my game," Merritt said. "So if they come in, I usually try to make them pay for it and try to power slap throughout the infield. Just knowing how to place the ball and how to confuse the defense, because slapping is a huge advantage in softball; not only do you have speed, you're able to place the ball and really just play with the defense and confuse them."

Merritt finished her sophomore season with a .413 batting average and .444 on-base percentage, getting on base nearly half per plate appearances. And when she gets on base, she often advances well past first — she was 22-for-23 in stolen-base attempts and scored 18 runs in 18 games.

At the root of those numbers is her ability to slap and bunt.

"Usually I hear people, they know I'm a good bunter, so usually I use my bunting to my advantage," Merritt said. "And a lot of times, even if I do hit it to someone, since I'm so fast, they try to hurry up and get the ball there and they end up missing it."

For more about what Merritt enjoys about softball, her injury and recovery last season, Lumberton softball's core of rising juniors and why Merritt wears No. 3 for the Pirates, see the full interview at