Updated: Mar 26, 2019
The 17th-ranked Salisbury University softball team started off the year 8-1 for the second consecutive year and third time over the past five seasons. Junior Emily Allen has led the Sea Gulls both on offense and defense to make this possible.
The Ellicott City native has solidified herself as a dual threat at both the catcher and first base position. Throughout her whole playing career, Allen has played multiple positions.
“I started playing softball as a third baseman and then I switched to first,” Allen said. “And then, my junior year of high school [at Centennial High School], I was back to catching again, so I’ve always kind of been between catcher and first.”
Despite not always having time to get reps in both positions every practice, Allen takes extra practice reps at both catcher and first base to continue to improve her game.
“When I’m not [working with the catchers], I’m out on the field with first [base] and take some extra reps at first, because not every practice I get to go to first because I’m catching the pitchers,” Allen said. “Coach [Knight] gives me lots of opportunities to get extra reps and get better at both positions.”
Throughout her three years at Salisbury, Allen has matured into the player that she is today, realizing that her team’s performance should come before her stats. Allen’s stat line this season has come naturally from her focus on the team’s overall performance above her own personal stats.
“I’ve definitely grown more as a softball player. I realize that my performance at the plate isn’t always going to be the best thing for the team,” Allen said. “I need, for example, to hit to the right side to score a run instead of trying to up my stats to get a base hit. So, I think it’s just realizing that my performance shouldn’t matter as much as how it ties in with how the team’s doing.”
Allen is on pace to have a career best mark in many statistical categories, including slugging percentage, batting percentage, times struck out, extra base hits, double plays and stolen bases allowed, among others.
In five games played at catcher and four at first base this season, Allen has recorded 43 putouts, three assists and two double plays with a perfect fielding percentage, while only allowing two passed balls.
Allen credits her time spent working with fellow catchers sophomore Madeira Alexander and freshman Sydney Duplissey on how she’s improved her game at catcher and has found success on the defensive side of the ball this year.
On the offensive side of the ball, Allen leads the team in RBIs, plate appearances, triples, home runs, slugging percentage and extra base hits, along with being tied for first in hits and doubles. Allen also has the third-best overall batting average, which is second among all starters, and scored the third most runs on the team.
Allen recorded a base hit in five out of her last six games and has four multi-hit games this season. When Allen walks up to the plate ready for an at bat, she knows that she doesn’t have to do anything fancy, she just has to hit the ball.
“I realized that I can’t do too much, or I wouldn’t be successful,” Allen said. “I’m really just trying to see the ball and just hit it wherever it’s pitched. I’m really trying to put the ball in play.”
Salisbury is riding a six-game win streak, outscoring its opponents 41-18. Allen’s offense contributed to Salisbury’s scoring throughout this win streak, recording 10 hits, seven RBIs, two home runs and six runs scored.
The No. 17 Sea Gulls look poised to challenge last year’s CAC runners-up Christopher Newport University Captains for the CAC crown once again this season. Salisbury will also look to advance to the NCAA Tournament again and make a run in the postseason.
Allen believes that the highly competitive and supportive atmosphere makes this Salisbury team special and poised for a run in the CAC playoffs and beyond.
“I think that we all are just really pushing each other. We all really want everybody [on this team] to succeed,” Allen said. “There’s a lot of like, not competition, but everyone is pushing each other when there’s multiple people at a position and everyone wants everyone [else] to do better. We have pretty high standards at practice that we want everybody to meet. We all just really push each other to do the best that we can.”
By BRANDON STARK
Featured photo: The infield centers around the pitching mound. March 9 (Emma Reider image).