When freshman outfielder Leah Allen suited up to play her first Ivy League games of the season on Monday against Yale, she donned royal blue glitter in place of eye black. Her cheeks, however, were not the only things that sparkled during her performance against the Elis.
In the second game of the doubleheader, Allen gave the Red and Blue a boost by smacking her fourth home run of the season. With her contributions at the plate, Allen helped the Quakers snap their seven-game losing streak, leading them to a 2-0 Ivy start and 6-11 record overall.
After her performance against Yale, Allen sits comfortably at a .333 batting average, the third highest on the team behind junior outfielder Sydney Turchin and freshman pitcher and designated hitter Alexis Sargent.
Even though the season is just two months in, the first-year slugger from Woodbane, Md. has already found a home for herself in Penn’s batting lineup. Going into Wednesday’s contest against Big 5 rival Temple, Allen has tallied 16 RBI and an impressive 10 runs — both highs for the team — in just 17 games and 45 at-bats.
That being said, Allen has big shoes to fill. Last year, Penn graduated its top four hitters in Sam Erosa, Brooke Caloma, Stephanie Caso and Jessica Melendez . These four departed seniors were directly responsible for nearly half of all of the runs scored by the Red and Blue in 2013.
Allen’s consistent performance in the batter’s box has been especially crucial for the young Quaker offense. During the first few weeks of the season, coach Leslie King played around with Allen’s place in the batting order.
“I led off two games I think,” Allen recalled. “For the most part I’m somewhere in the middle of the lineup.”
As of late, King has Allen batting between fourth or fifth in the lineup, the place usually reserved for the strongest hitter on the team. Given Allen’s .622 slugging percentage, it is easy to see why she hits where she does.
Allen doesn’t seem to feel pressured by her favorable place in the batting order.
“Hitting is my favorite part of the game,” Allen explained, “so I want to be somewhere [in the lineup] where I can do stuff.”
Despite Allen’s success in her debut season, she acknowledged, “softball is such a dependent sport where you can’t do everything on your own.”
Allen knows that she has to rely on the example of upperclassmen role models to push the limits of her playing. In particular, she hopes to learn from the example of fellow outfielder Sydney Turchin.
“She just plays the outfield so well,” Allen said. “Hopefully I will play like her someday.”
Allen may not play like Turchin yet, but in the meantime the Quakers can be thankful that Allen does her best to light up the bats game after game.