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Gulf & Main Magazine

Fort Myers Green Wave Softball Head Coach Reflects on First State Championship Season

Jul 01, 2017 02:01PM ● By Kevin

The 2016-17 Class 7A Softball State Champions: Fort Myers Green Wave. Photo courtesy of Fort Myers Green Wave Softball on Facebook.

Sixth-year softball head coach at Fort Myers High School, Johnny Manetta, said he could not have scripted a better start to a championship game in the team's 7-1 victory over Niceville in May's Class 7A state championship game. The win capped the program's first-ever state title. 

The Green Wave scored four runs in the first inning, allowing the girls to relax into the game and "just play softball."

"With the wind blowing in 20-25 mph, we decided to take a small ball approach and it payed off," Manetta said. "Pitching-wise we threw inside and made them hit into the wind and it worked; even though they hit a few balls hard, the wind will win every time. Our outfield is great and that is how they played."

The Green Wave finished the season 30-2, and will return all of its starters for the 2017-18 campaign. Season standouts include pitcher Hannah Perkins, catcher Riley Ludlam, who also won the state title in basketball, centerfielder Jessica Wilson and pitcher Vivian Ponn. These helped to make up the unit's core leadership, which led the team to many great moments throughout the year.

"The 2-run homerun in the semi-finals, going undefeated in two tournaments during the regular season, the diving catch by my center fielder in the 7th inning of the state championship game," Manetta reflected as some of the highlights of the 2016-17 season.

Manetta started coaching softball, like most men do, he said, when they have daughters, and not sons.

"I fell in love with the speed and the passion that the girls play with," said Manetta, who spent one year as an assistant at North Fort Myers High School before taking the helm with the Green Wave.

He believes the team's youth (three juniors, seven sophomores and two freshmen) will give them a strong chance next year.

"[They are the] hardest, most unselfish group of kids," he said. catcher also won state championship in basketball. "Cant wait for next season!"