Alexa Allen's prep softball career was like a pop music radio show. The hits just kept on coming.
After Allen went 3-for-4 in her final game for Leo High School, a regional championship loss to Homestead, she put down her bat which, presumably, was still sizzling.
Allen compiled a state-record 237 hits in her four-year career and finished with a .619 career batting average.
She had at least 55 hits every year, including a record 76 as a freshman when the Lions won the Class 3A state title.
After capping her career with the hits record – and batting .585 with 55 hits while switching to a new position in the field – Allen is the 2017 New-Sentinel Softball Player of the Year.
“She always did a great job of being a leader, just by showing everybody what to do,” Leo coach Ben Shappell said. “When you have somebody who set a hits record as a freshman, and she's coming and working her butt off to keep getting better, it rubs off on other players.”
Allen worked with a hitting coach throughout her career, making sure to get swings in every day, perfecting her stance, her balance and her approach.
“It was definitely all the hitting lessons,” she said. “I went to hitting lessons any time I could.”
The work paid off, obviously.
She entered her senior year knowing she had a shot at the state record for career hits. She broke the record held by Kendra Lynch of Indianapolis Roncalli in a win over Carroll on May 16.
“It was exciting, and I was relieved at the same time,” Allen said. “When I was told I was really close to breaking it, then it started to consume me. It was all I started thinking about. It was a relief when I finally broke it.”
Allen's final season included its share of physical and mental adjustments. She switched from hitting second in the lineup to leading off. And she switched from the outfield to third base.
Both required a different mindset.
“I was actually a bit nervous about leading off,” she said. “I didn't want to be leadoff because I had always been second. But I adjusted and became the leadoff batter the team needed.”
She welcomed moving to third much more.
“I enjoyed playing outfield, but I really loved third base,” Allen said.
Shappell didn't hesitate with either move because he said Allen had shown she was willing to be a team-first player.
“She would lay down a sacrifice bunt and do whatever we asked her to do,” Shappell said. “It's great having a kid that knows the team comes first before her personal goals.”
Allen's focus has extended to her life beyond high school and softball. She had offers to continue to play softball in college, but decided to put the sport aside and has already started her studies to become a veterinary technician.
“I love animals,” she said. “I recently just got a dog for my birthday, and we have two other dogs, so it's basically my love.”
The decision to give up softball wasn't easy.
“It was a very hard decision because I love softball and I really didn't want to quit, but ultimately I decided to focus on academics,” Allen said. “I had a great career in high school softball.”
While Allen made her mark on the record books, she said she will most remember being part of a great run in Leo softball.
The Lions were 104-16 during Allen's career, with a state title, two semistate titles, three regional titles and four sectional titles.
“I'll definitely miss my teammates, all the bonding we did and how close I got to them,” Allen said. “It was tough when we lost because it was so much fun being part of the team. It was very exciting and I was glad to be part of (Leo's success), especially to be part of the first state win for Leo.”
All-Area Softball Team
Alexa Allen, Leo
Abbie Heischman, Leo
Ashley Miller, Leo
Kenzie Rust, Leo
Macy Montgomery, Bellmont
Tori Miller, Bellmont
Olivia Dickerson, Bishop Dwenger
Stephanie Hanic, Bishop Dwenger
Megan Prater, Bluffton
Megyn Pfeiffer, Carroll
Kaylie Schlotter, Carroll
Madison Sechrest, Carroll
Shelby Prows, Concordia Lutheran
Kennedy Steele, Concordia Lutheran
Madisen Parker, Homestead
Mackenzie Cannici, Huntington North
Hannah Middlebrooks, Huntington North
Katelin Augsburger, South Adams
Ellie Snep, Whitko