Tournaments | Story | 6/4/2019

Clines pitchin' in for FTB

Autumn Jones        
Photo: Olivia Clines (Perfect Game)

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Olivia Clines isn’t your average athlete. The 14-year-old righthanded pitcher had an outstanding performance this weekend, topping a career-high 80 mph.

14u FTB Rocket's Olivia Clines excelled on the mound leading the Rockets to the semifinals in the 2019 Florida World Series, proving her favorite sport isn’t just for the guys.

But when it comes to competing with them, she says, “It’s great. They’re very supportive, but they also give me some competition. So, it’s good working with them.”

Clines’ top performance came at the series opener on Saturday, when the righthander threw five innings, allowing no earned runs, striking out two and only allowing three hits in her win on the mound. Her fastball, which was consistently 75-77, topped out at 80 mph.

“It felt amazing!” she described. “I was so happy that I did that. I was just beyond happy.”

Clines, an incoming freshman, achieves a competitive spirit that’s breaking down barriers, not just for baseball but for girls in sports too. She competes in volleyball and track and field, where she competes in shot put and high jump.

Clines’ head coach for the Rockets, Max Rios, has driven her successes on and off the field this season.

“He’s really helped me push through all the pain and to always work hard - work, work, work, as hard as I can and just play,” said Clines of Rios.

Rios brings five years of coaching experience to the Rockets program, along with experience playing at the collegiate and professional level. As someone who has such an abundance of knowledge of the game, he simply recognizes talent.

Coach Rios believes Clines’ strongest asset is her work ethic and calls her a “competitor.”

“She’s definitely a competitor,” said Rios. “She works really hard on and off the field; whether she’s in the gym working 4-5 times a week, training with me personally, or just practice itself. She’s doing a great job competing and getting the job done.”

Clines’ dedication and continuous improvements in results have shown that her tireless efforts do pay off. In addition to an impressive start this summer, she has made All-Tournament team six times in a span of three seasons. Along with her coaches, Clines has had a familiar mentor, in fact, one she’s known her whole life – her brother, Cameron Clines.

“I look up to my brother a lot,” she said. "Most recently, he hit 90 mph – he’s my motivating factor. He pushes me to keep going.”

Cameron, just a year older than Olivia, competes with the 15u FTB Rockets. Despite the fact both righthanders share a unique and confident style on the mound, Cameron’s effective fastball, highly repeatable mechanics, and elite hitting abilities have earned him a spot at the top 500 National ranking and recognized by Perfect Game as a top underclass athlete at the high school level.

Coach Rios is honored to have both siblings apart of the program.

“It’s amazing. I’ve known them for years now and it’s just awesome to see what they’ve become,” said Rios of the Clines siblings. “Right now, her brother is sitting about 80-90 and he’s put so much hard work in, and she’s doing the same as well. Saturday, Olivia topped out at 80, and that’s just awesome.”

Cameron seems to be a fundamental role model for his sister. She enjoys being a part of FTB Rockets and all the competition that comes with it.

“My brother started playing for FTB and he really likes it," said Clines. "I played with coach Max before and I really like him as a coach, so I stuck with it.”

Clines’ ambitions for the remainder of the season are to work hard, improve on hitting and support her team. While doing everything necessary to continue to improve, her teammates can count on her to step up to the plate. 

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