The 16-year-old sophomore threw two shutouts, allowing just four hits and fanning 21, in a 7-0 win over Riverside and a 2-0 win over rival Mid Valley, handing the Spartanettes their first loss.
Athletes you admire? I’d say No. 1 would be Maggie Balint from the University of Oregon. And Alexis Osorio from Alabama.
Any superstitions or rituals on game day? I’m probably the most superstitious person you’ll meet. I have to wear my visor every game, which I didn’t last game but we were okay. I always braid Olivia Krupski’s hair before. I wear the same belt, the same socks, it’s everything really. Brush my hair the same way. Liv Krupski and I wear the same shirts to school. It’s a lot.
Most famous athlete you’ve met? I’ve met Jennie Finch. I think that’s about as famous as it gets.
Teams you follow? I’m a big New England Patriots fan, and I follow Hofstra, obviously. And the University of Oregon because I work with Maggie’s mom.
What kind of role model is Maggie Balint for you? She put in the work and Jen (Maggie’s mother and Jenna’s pitching coach) is pushing me to do that, too. It’s fun to see that you can get there. Up until this year, I didn’t realize that something like that could happen to someone from this area. I worked with Jen and I saw Maggie throw, and her attitude about it, and that she’s not going to get somewhere unless she’s working as hard as she can, and just working this last summer and putting in the hours. My dad has always told me, if you want something, you have to work for it, even if it’s a day you don’t want to and you want to sit on the couch. Someone else is working harder than you somewhere and you can’t let that happen.
Three people you’d like to have dinner with. Bill Edwards, who was the former coach at Hofstra; Jessica Mendoza because she’s making it big time and has a career at ESPN after softball; and Liv Krupski will get mad for not saying Liv Krupski, but coach (Joe) Ross because he’s just a cool guy.
Who’s been most influential person on your athletic career? All of my coaches. Coach (Joe) Ross has been a big help to me staying focused and controlling what I can control, one pitch at a time. My pitching coaches, Jen Balint and Tom Rudzinski, they just pushed me to be a better player. And travelwise, my coach Dave Lotti has opened my eyes to a whole different world and has pushed us to be better every day.
What’s the biggest improvement you’ve seen in any other player on the team from last year to this year? Liv Krupski. Her attitude and drive has pushed me to want to be a better player. Lindsey Leppo stepping up to be a leader because we lost all the seniors from last year, and she’s not taking slackers and she’s pushing everyone everyday. She’s awesome and always making someone laugh. And Gianna Sacchetti stepping up in the outfield and coming through with clutch hits, it’s comforting to me to know someone can hit the ball to center field and Gianna is going to catch it.
What pitches are in your repertoire? I have a fastball, which I’ve been working on location. Sometimes it drops down. Whatever movement I’ll take it. My curveball, I can put that on the corners and it’s a pitch I’ve focused on so I can throw that with two strikes with confidence. And my changeup, which is one of my favorite pitches because it’s always fun to see people jumping out of their shoes. When that’s working, it’s one of my favorite pitches to throw. But my riseball is like my pride and joy. It’s something I’ve put a lot of work into. Tom Rudzinski helped me learn it and then working with Jen Balint, getting that right spin, it definitely goes harder than my other pitches. It’s a pitch I’m really confident in.
How hard do you throw? On a good day, I’ve been clocked at 66 (mph). My average is between 61 and 63, but some days it’s 58, 59.
In the Riverside game, you allowed just one hit. Do you remember it? Hailey Scardo. I’ve played with Hailey since we were little and she got a good piece of the ball. I definitely could have been sharper with that pitch, but I can’t be perfect with every pitch. God love her, she’s the funniest person you’ll ever meet. I’ll let her have it this time.
You had big RBIs in two games this week, but this year hasn’t gone quite as well for you at the plate. Do you blame that on the weather? I don’t like to make excuses for it. Hitting comes and goes. I can’t get too frustrated and I can’t focus on the numbers. If I have a day where I hit three line drives to center field, I’m happy with that. I know when I have good days and bad days and recognizing I can’t do everything and keeping the mindset to keep going.
What’s it like having a new catcher to throw to this year? Does that change much? I just love Liv (Zehel). She got clunked in the head a couple times in the Mid Valley game and she didn’t kill me for laughing at her. It took a little bit of adjusting in the beginning of the season, but I don’t think I’ve really clicked with a catcher like I have with Liv. She knows what to say to me when I’m in a rut. I’m so blessed to have her behind the plate. I mean, Grace (Perechinsky) was awesome last year and she’s done a lot for me. And I think Liv really stepped up.