Former Carson High standout Jennifer Purcell ties NCAA softball record
RENO — Former Carson High softball star Jennifer Purcell made her way into the NCAA record book last weekend.
Purcell, a sophomore first baseman at Nevada, tied an NCAA record when she hit safely in her first 13 at-bats at last weekend’s Grizzly Classic.
The 13-hit effort matched the record originally set by Boston University’s April Setterlund in 2010 that was matched in 2013 by Haley Ward of Norfolk State.
During the five games, Purcell hit a staggering .867 (13-for-15) with four doubles, two home runs and nine RBI. She raised her average to a team-leading .446. Her slugging percentage is .815 and her on-base percentage is .520.
Purcell, who went 9-for-9 over the first three games of the tourney, said she didn’t know she was close to a record until Saturday night when she read on Twitter that the record was 13 straight.
“It was cool,” Purcell said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “I’m seeing the ball really well. It was exciting to go that long batting 1.000. I’m not sure my teammates knew anything about the record.”
The left-handed hitter went 4-for-4 against Nebraska-Omaha to tie the record before going hitless in the tournament finale.
“I’m comfortable in the box, and obviously it’s showing. I changed my stance at the Las Vegas tournament,” she said. “The coaches said I was closing myself off and overstriding, so I went to a closed stance. I’m just seeing the ball really well.”
“You can be in the game for a long time and not see a run like that,” Nevada coach Matt Meuchel said. “It was fun for her and fun for her teammates and coaching staff. She is swinging it well, but she was starting to swing it well before that tournament. That was very special to see.”
Purcell almost etched her name on the top line of the record book on Sunday against Montana. In her first at-bat, she lined a shot to left field that the Grizzly outfielder pulled down near the line.
“They were playing me right,” Purcell said. “It was close. It would have been awesome to have the record (by myself). I’m just happy to be in the record book.”
According to Meuchel, confidence and maturity have played a big role in Purcell’s success this year.
“She has the confidence that she can do it at this level,” the Pack coach said. “Your freshman year, you spend a lot of time worrying about whether you can do it at this level. She has done a great job of discipline at the plate. She has done a good job of working the count. She is making good contact; hitting the ball well to all fields.”
“Having a year under my belt has helped,” Purcell said. “I’m more mature and more confident. A lot of people don’t realize how difficult it is (to make the transition to college). I have a better understanding of the game.”
And, Purcell’s hitting is part of the reason why Nevada is 19-5 heading into its Mountain West season-opening series against visiting Boise State. The Pack was just 16-37 a year ago.
“It only took 20 games this year to win as many games as we did all of last year,” Purcell said. “Our pitching has been a big factor.”
Brooke Bolinger is 8-2 with a 1.98 ERA, McKenna Isenberg is 7-3 with a 3.40 ERA and Chase Redington is 4-0 with a 1.77 ERA. The team ERA is a solid 2.47.
The Pack is hitting .311 and averaging five runs a contest. Besides Purcell, Megan Sweet is hitting .405, Aaliyah Gibson is at .359, Kwynn Warner .346, Raquel Martinez .321 and Jasmine Jenkins is at .316.