VERDIGRIS — Becca Manahl woke up one day with an epiphany.
“Hey, I should move down here,” she told Emma West, a friend with whom she was spending the night.
She was referring to Verdigris.
Although the two played for the OK Force 05 summer league softball team, their seasons were going to look quite different come the school year. West was entering her second season with Verdigris, while Manahl was set to begin her high school career as a freshman at Broken Arrow.
Manahl didn’t want to be a Tiger like her three older brothers, though. She wanted to join West and compete in Class 4A softball as a Cardinal.
However, she would have to make about a 20-mile commute every day for that to be feasible.
So she and West concocted a simple, yet ingenious, plan. They were going to convince Manahl’s parents to move to Verdigris.
And wouldn’t you know it, it actually worked.
“It was actually really easy,” West said. “They really liked how pretty it was, and then they just decided to move.”
Four weeks later, Manahl is swinging bats for Verdigris coach Brian Keith.
Such a sudden move was certainly unprecedented, but the girls’ sweet talk and charm weren’t the sole reasons for the decision.
In fact, Tom and Dina Manahl had been looking for a way out of their living situation in Broken Arrow for months.
Whether it was because of the tight confines of their cul-de-sac or the headaches caused by car traffic outside the neighborhood, they were ready for a change. Becca just happened to give them the perfect excuse to leave their home of years.
“We live in Broken Arrow, and (the houses) were too close, and we didn’t like it,” said Tom Manahl, Becca’s father. “We live right by the high school, and trying to get in and out of our neighborhood is next to impossible during certain times of the day. We were looking to move, and she suggested Verdigris because she had friends there. We thought it might be best if she’s going to start at a new high school to go somewhere she knows people already. So we started looking at Verdigris and found a builder.
“I would’ve been happy to move to another place in Broken Arrow, but the bat was the driving force.”
Becca’s mother, Dina Manahl, was a little harder to convince because she had picked out the house they occupy in BA, but she eventually went along with the relocation.
The family still lives in the residence because its soon-to-be home in Verdigris has yet to break ground. Becca’s brothers have been taking her to practice the past few weeks, and a teammate will help her get to campus during the school year until the house is complete.
“It was hard because her three brothers graduated from Broken Arrow, so I wanted her to graduate there,” Dina Manahl said.
So far, the transfer has paid off for Becca Manahl.
She was instrumental in the Lady Cardinals’ season-opening 15-4 win over Jay on Monday afternoon, going 3-for-3 at the plate with a home run and 3 RBIs.
Her two-run homer in the second inning, which was the first of her career, erased a 2-0 deficit and sparked a 15-0 run that lasted through the fourth.
“When I was going up to bat, I realized that she was pitching it pretty easy down the middle,” Becca Manahl said. “I saw her pitching wasn’t super fast or super slow, so I got right in the middle of the box. I barrowed it straight up because she pitched down the middle, and it felt amazing.
“That was my first one, and it felt amazing.”
Becca Manahl credited her early success to the fast-paced coaching style of Keith. She said that has helped her learn more in a short amount of time, which comes in handy when transitioning from a different system.
Keith, who is in his 13th season with Verdigris, realizes the kind of talent Becca Manahl brings to his program as well.
“It took me about a week to know that I got something special because this young lady is a gamer,” Keith said. “Nothing fazes her; she just gets out and plays and does it the right way. She’s the one who got us going today.
“It’s pretty impressive for a freshman.”