Marisa Olmos and Ashleigh Rodriguez met when they were in fifth grade. They went to the same middle school, played travel softball together the past six years and now are juniors at Liberty.
The two are such good friends, they even finish each other’s sentences.
“It’s so great that we’re going to college together now, too,” Olmos said Tuesday.
Olmos and Rodriguez each made an oral commitment to play softball at Duke during an unofficial visit to the school last weekend and are set to become part of the Blue Devils’ first ever recruiting class.
The commitments are nonbinding, and the duo cannot sign a letter of intent until November 2016. Duke’s coaches cannot comment until that time.
“At first, I didn’t really take it all in,” Olmos said. “But now that I (committed), it’s like ‘Yes!’ I worked hard, my parents spent all that money and it actually pays off. I’m just so excited.”
Olmos and Rodriguez caught the attention of Duke coach Marissa Young in August while playing for the Lil Rebels travel team during the Premier Girls Fastpitch National Championships.
During one game in the tournament at Huntington Beach, Calif., Olmos stood out at the plate and in right field, while Rodriguez robbed an opposing player of a home run. Young happened to be sitting with a coach from the Lil Rebels when Rodriguez made her leaping catch in center field.
“It was kind of the right place at the right time, for sure,” Rodriguez said.
Olmos and Rodriguez were contacted by Young on Sept. 1, the first day coaches can contact recruits from the class of 2017, and they made an unofficial visit to Durham, N.C., last week.
Olmos was drawing interest from Hawaii and UNLV, among others, while Rodriguez was hearing from several Ivy League schools, but each said the opportunity to be part of building a program was too much to pass up.
Duke is scheduled to begin varsity play during the 2017-18 academic year.
“We’re super excited to be part of the inaugural season,” Rodriguez said. “That’s such a huge opportunity.”
Olmos batted .407 with a team-best two home runs and 20 RBIs as a sophomore, while Rodriguez hit .326 with 16 RBIs to help the Patriots capture the Northeast League title. Both players were named first-team all-league.
Liberty finished 18-14-2 last season and is expected to contend for the Sunrise Region tournament title in the spring.
“The pressure’s there,” Rodriguez said, “but we just have to play the game like we know how to play and just do our thing.”
* POLL POSITIONS — Green Valley’s boys soccer team is ranked No. 7 in this week’s USA Today/National Soccer Coaches Association of America Region VIII poll. Canyon Springs, the lone unbeaten team in Division I, debuted at No. 13, while Western was one of five teams receiving votes.
Arbor View’s girls soccer team is ranked No. 8 in the USA Today/NSCAA Region VI poll, and Coronado is No. 14.
* ROLAND PICKS JAGUARS — Liberty senior Bryan Roland made an oral commitment to Southern University (La.), Patriots football coach Rich Muraco said.
Roland, a 5-foot-10-inch, 175-pound wide receiver/defensive back, has 10 receptions for 133 yards this season along with two carries for 17 yards and a touchdown. He was a first-team All-Northeast League pick at defensive back as a junior.
Contact reporter David Schoen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ