By Bob Behre
Olivia Burd has an insatiable desire to do what it takes to help her team succeed.
The versatile Finch’s Aces 18U Premier team leadoff hitter believes she has found a college where those attributes will best be served.
“As soon as I walked onto the Scranton University campus I knew it was the school for me,” said the Hunterdon Central High School senior. “The feel of the school and the look of the campus was all I wanted in a college.”
Though that initial impression was lasting, there were bigger, more significant things that impacted Burd’s decision to opt for Scranton over Moravian College and some other attractive options. “The school’s counseling program really caught my attention,” said Burd, “because I want to major in counseling children with disabilities.”
Of course, part of that important decision would hinge on Burd’s comfort with the school’s softball program. “The Scranton softball team has an amazing record and coach Mia (Collarini Wascura) has the exact coaching style I was looking for in a coach.”
Burd had also been accepted at Manhattanville College, Rowan University and Stockton University.
Burd elevated her game to new heights this past summer and fall with the Finch’s Aces following a junior campaign at Hunterdon Central in which she contributed to the team’s 23-4 season and a berth in the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 semifinals.
“Olivia is a versatile, energetic player,” said Jackie Spina, Burd’s coach with the Aces 18U Premier team and Diamond Nation’s director of softball operations. “She’s our table-setter. She brings constant hustle and energy to our team and that makes her a leader.”
Burd saw significant time in the summer and fall at both second base and center field, helping to give the Aces plenty of lineup options.
“Olivia plays both positions very well,” says Spina. “She has great range and makes great reads on fly balls in center field. I can’t wait to see her succeed this spring and at Scranton.”
Burd ignited the potent Aces Premier lineup from the leadoff spot, batting .368 in the summer with a .429 on-base percentage. She followed that with an even more productive fall campaign. Burd batted .421 in the fall, scored 28 runs and boasted a .500 on-base percentage and a .456 slugging percentage.
Burd played second base for her high school team and batted at the bottom of the order in 2018 but appears primed for a move to the top of the Red Devils batting order.
“I’ve always been versatile as a player and I would also describe myself as determined,” said Burd. “I’ve been determined to be the best player I can be since I started playing softball. I want the best for my team and myself. The pace and energy of the game is something I love.”
Collarini Wascura is a 2011 Scranton grad and has already had a successful eight-year run at the Pennsylvania school. Part of that success is aided by a strong New Jersey contingent that includes former Aces outfielder Megan Zinn. The Bridgewater-Raritan grad will be a senior when Burd arrives at Scranton in September.
Burd’s versatility surely will provide plenty of options for the switch-hitter at the college level. And her experience at Diamond Nation with the Aces has contributed mightily to that development.
“I’ve been with Jackie on the Aces for the past two years and played here two years earlier,” said Burd. “If I hadn’t been with the Aces I would not have had to the chance to be coached by the best coach I’ve ever had. Jackie has taught me so much. I’ve learned so much under her direction.”
Finch’s Aces also have the opportunity a few times a year to meet and be instructed by Olympic Softball legend Jennie Finch.
“One of the best things about training with the Aces is having the opportunity to meet Jennie Finch,” said Burd. “Her positive attitude is something that gets us fired up. I am so grateful I have gotten so many chances to meet and be coached by Jennie during games.”