Quam sets table for WNC
Jenny Quam is the ideal leadoff hitter; table-setter if you will.
The Western Nevada College freshman centerfielder looks at a lot of pitches, gets on base a lot, steals bases and hits for a high average.
The speedy left-handed hitter is one of the big reasons why the Wildcats are off to their best start in school history with a 6-5 record in Scenic West Conference play and a school-best 11 wins so far.
“She’s doing a great job,” WNC coach Leah Wentworth said. “She is doing exactly what I thought she could do when I recruited her. She has stolen 20 of 21 bases and she’s getting on base almost half the time.”
Quam, who prepped at North Valleys High School In Reno, is batting .325 with 16 walks, a .434 on-base percentage and 20 stolen bases in 21 attempts.
“Actually I’ve been pretty surprised, especially because I didn’t think the pitching would be as good as it is,” said Quam between stints in the batting cage on Tuesday afternoon. “It’s a lot different than in high school. The biggest difference is off-speed pitches. There isn’t a lot of good off-speed pitching in high school.
“I just have to work hard at staying back and dragging my foot a little more. Changeups give me problems. I like the harder pitching.”
And, Wentworth thinks that Quam could hit even higher if she bunted more and took advantage of her speed from home to first. The fleet-footed Quam has been timed as low as 2.68 seconds from home to first.
“When she gets a bunt down, it’s really hard to throw her out,” Wentworth said. “She grounded one back to the pitcher last weekend, and they barely threw her out by a step. We’ve talked to her about taking more advantage of the short game. I don’t think she realizes how close to home they would have to play (to throw her out).
“It’s not that she’s swinging away (for the fences) it’s she’s just not bunting enough. She could hit .600 if she bunted more.”
In softball vernacular, left-handed hitters, especially hitters at the top of the lineup, are usually known as “slappers”. It’s a term that Quam hates, and she takes great pains to make defenses look bad.
“In one of our games, the outfielders all moved up to the grass line (probably 90 or so feet from homeplate) the first time I came up,” Quam said. “The first time up I popped it up to left field. The next time up I hit one to the fence. When I came up again, the coach told her outfielders to ‘give her a step’.”
And, Quam gets such a good jump on the bases that she pretty much has the green light to steal any time. She’s only been caught once, and Quam said she kind of “popped up” after the slide and her foot came off the base.
The WNC star got called out twice for leaving early last week, but she thought only one of the calls was legit.
But if you think Quam is all about offense, think again. The centerfielder robbed a North Idaho batter of a three-run homer, and she’s also thrown a few runners out at the plate trying to score from second base.
“I’ve been able to track down a lot of balls this year,” Quam said. “I’m trying to be the leader of the outfield. I’m getting better at communicating.”
Quam wants to play at the next level, and Wentworth thinks she is more than capable of doing it. Quam also said she plans to stay at WNC for two years and honor her commitment to Wentworth.
“That’s my dream,” Quam said. “I want to go to a big school. My dream is to go to Arizona State. I also wouldn’t mind UNR because it’s close to home. I haven’t started yet (sending out video), but I will be doing it soon. I’d like to stay through the whole two years here and finish my commitment. This is like a family to me.”
“I definitely think she can,” Wentworth said about playing at the next level. “She has all the tools to play at the next level. She has the bat, the arm and the speed. I’m pretty surprised that he’s not at a higher level already.”