LEO-CEDARVILLE – There is music in the numbers. How do you do what Alexa Allen has done this spring, what she’s helped Leo softball do, and not hear a soundtrack playing triumphantly in the background?
And so the Lions stagger into the postseason and then rise – they’re one win away from a Class 3A state title after losing four of their last five games in the regular season – and Allen stands in and swings the bat. And marvelous things happen.
I was a little nervous about the pitching at first, because you know, it’s faster, a lot faster, says Allen, Leo’s freshman sensation. But, yeah, I’ve gotten comfortable with it.
To the tune, pun intended, of a state-record 76 hits, a state-best .679 average, a state-best .675 on-base percentage and a state-best 51 RBI. And the greatest part about all of that, maybe?
Allen could not only inspire the aforementioned soundtrack, she could play it, too.
In addition to softball, which she’s played since T-ball, she also plays the clarinet and tenor sax, and she’s learning the violin. If softball holds the key to her heart, music owns the pass key.
I’ll listen to any type of music, and I’ll find something to like about it, Allen says.
Clarinet and tenor sax came first and violin next, which she’s yet to master because, surprise, surprise, softball keeps getting in the way. Or maybe it’s vice versa.
We had to keep putting it off because of softball and sports like that, and we couldn’t find a teacher, she says. But now we’ve found a teacher and do lessons over the weekend.
It’s one more thing to fill up a busy life for Allen, whom Leo coach Ben Shappell has seen coming for a long time because she has been playing forever for a travel team in Grabill, the Thunder, which is coached by Leo assistant Tony Bowers.
We knew that she was a good hitter, but I didn’t know how she would fare against high school pitching, because obviously the ball moves a lot more and things like that, Shappell says.
The first game we played, she was 0 for 4. We had a doubleheader that day, and after the first game, I said, You just need to relax, you’re not going to get a hit every time.’ And from then on she’s been lights out.
And if any of that, any of the music in all those numbers, is because of, well, Allen’s music, she can’t say. Maybe there’s some hand-eye coordination that crosses over (You’ve got to have that because you’ve got to be able to read the music and play the notes, she says), but that’s just a guess.
All she knows is, both music and softball are part of her busy life. And right now softball’s king, because travel softball starts June 20 – and six days before that Leo’s going to the state finals, where the Lions will take on Gibson Southern for the 3A title.
These girls have really come together, Shappell says. It’s been really nice to see.
Strike up the band.