Coming into 2015, Penn softball pitcher and first baseman Alexis Sargent had already recorded the eighth-most home runs in program history, notched the school's fifth-lowest career earned run average, been named second-team All-Ivy and led the Quakers to the Ivy League Championship series.
All in her rookie season.
Sargent’s tremendous debut in 2014 wasn’t totally unexpected, as the Virginia native joined the Red and Blue after being named to the All-State team three times in high school, among numerous other accolades. However, Sargent’s freshman performance was so good that it even surprised herself.
“Coming in as a freshman, I didn't expect to get as much plate time as I did,” Sargent said. “I was absolutely thrilled with the amount of opportunities I got. I'm really happy with how I showed up, especially in stressful situations to help our team succeed.
“I was really proud of myself.”
In addition to firmly establishing herself on the Quakers' career home run leaderboard, Sargent’s nine bombs last year were the third-most for Penn in a single season, behind only Annie Kinsey in 2007 and fellow freshman teammate and outfielder Leah Allen, who set the single-season mark after clubbing 13 home runs in 2014.
However, despite establishing herself in Penn's history books, Sargent isn’t focusing on setting individual records.
“Honestly, you can't really think about that while you're at the plate or else it's really going to mess up your performance,” Sargent said. “I just try to focus on getting solid contact and helping the team out. And if that results in breaking any of those records, I'd be absolutely thrilled, but I just want to win out here.”
In addition to her prodigious power at the plate, Sargent also served as Penn’s No. 2 pitcher last year, behind senior Alexis (AC) Borden. Her 2.51 ERA placed fifth among pitchers in the Ivy League last year.
Despite her dominant run-prevention skills, Sargent isn’t your typical strikeout pitcher.
“Comparing myself to the rest of our staff, I'm definitely more of a pitch-to-contact pitcher,” Sargent said. “AC strikes more people out and I think I'm in there more to induce pop-ups and groundouts.”
It's a style that has worked well for Sargent. Although she only struck out 43 batters in 69 innings last season, she won six games, including a complete game shutout over Yale last spring.
Sargent’s double duty is all the more impressive given the constraints on her practice time. The Ivy League restricts spring sports’ practice time in the fall, which means Sargent has to devote the majority of her efforts to honing her craft in the circle when spring rolls around.
“All my practice time with the coaches get devoted to pitching so I really have to work on my hitting,” Sargent said. “That kind of does my hitting a disservice, but it's a lot of work.”
Nevertheless, Sargent has numerous resources to help her at the plate.
“I've had great coaching all my life,” Sargent said. “I know I can go home, or give a phone call to somebody, tell them that I'm struggling, and they know the right things to say to me. I also have great teammates that are willing to go down and work with me and help me out too.
“So there's a lot of support.”
Despite the extra work that being a two-way player demands, Sargent is always willing to accept the challenge.
“On a good day, I love being on the mound,” said Sargent. “But at the end of the day, I want to do whatever will help the team win, so if that means playing first, or pitching, whatever it means.”
Sargent has already done quite a bit of that in her sophomore campaign for the Quakers (11-9, 3-1 Ivy), batting .281 in 57 at-bats leads the team with 18 RBI. She has also continued to shine on the mound, as her ERA is a sterling 1.19 in two starts and four relief appearances while limiting opponents to a .239 batting average.
Sargent is hungry to win after coming so close to an Ivy League title last year, and is confident about her team’s chances. When asked who she was most looking forward to playing the season, her reply was immediate.
“Whoever we play in the championship."
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.