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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Leo's Alexa Allen tied the state hits record with a sixth-inning double against DeKalb on Monday.

  • Leo's Alexa Allen celebrates at second base after tying the state hits record Monday.

Friday, May 19, 2017 1:00 am

High school's hit queen

Nobody in state has more than Leo senior Allen

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

Leo senior softball standout Alexa Allen got her 223rd career hit in the first inning against Carroll on Tuesday.

That one hit took off some pressure as she broke the state record for career hits and was a relief to have achieved before the start of sectionals Monday.

“It feels great, and I won't have to focus so much on it and people will stop asking me if I've broken it yet,” she said. “I was hoping to break it (Monday against DeKalb) but things don't go as planned. (Getting walked) was unfortunate but it happens.”

Allen got the record-breaking hit in her first at-bat against Carroll as the game paused for a standing ovation and to retrieve the game ball. After another hit against Carroll, her career total was up to 224 after a 7-4 win.

“This is something she's been working for,” coach Ben Shappell said. “As a freshman, she broke the single-season record with 76, so we knew she had a good chance when you start off with 76 hits in one year. It's been something she's worked for very hard over these four years. She deserves it.”

After a standout freshman season that ended with a Class 3A state championship, Allen continued to work on her hitting. The result, besides the record, is confidence at the plate.

“(Having the single-season record) helps me a lot,” she said. “It makes me want to get better. For a while, I wasn't even aware I was so close to breaking the career record. It's made me want to get better.

“I would say I've worked on hitting the most. I enjoy hitting but sometimes I put too much pressure on myself and it doesn't become fun anymore. I just have to relax and find the pitch I want to hit.”

There were times during the season where the record weighed heavily on her and impacted her ability to focus at the plate.

“There was a spot in the middle of this season where she was putting a lot of pressure on herself,” Shappell said, “so we talked to her and said, 'It's going to come, you're a good hitter. You've got the skills to do it,' so she's relaxed since then. It's been good to see.”

With all the success during her high school career, Allen feels like it's a good time to put the bats away after her senior season as she plans on attending International Business College to become a veterinary technician.

“I decided I'm not going to play in college. I'm going to focus on academics, get my degree and move on,” she said. “I really do love softball, but it's time. I've been playing for a really long time. I started at T-ball at age 6.”

Allen is one of five seniors on this year's team along with Abbie Heischman, Morgan Finton, Makayla Hissong and Amanda Hopkins.

In three years, the team has a 3A state championship and state runner-up and a 4A regional title.

“This senior class is absolutely amazing,” Shappell said. “To go to state, back to state, to move up to 4A and still make it to semistate. These girls have the goal to make it back to state. I rely heavily on all five of these seniors. They've done a good job of leading the team and leading the program to where we are now.”

areichel@jg.net