Ahead of the curve

Published 5:03 pm Saturday, June 14, 2008

Already an All-Big Nine Conference award winner in three sports, Albert Lea softball player Jenna Christensen can add 2008 Albert Lea Tribune Player of the Year honors to the list.

Christensen batted leadoff and led the Tigers in every offensive category during the season, compiling a .446 batting average, scoring 15 runs, hitting five doubles and two home runs.

“She’s just a solid all-around hitter,” Albert Lea head coach Chad Feikema said. “She did not hit for that kind of power last year.”

Email newsletter signup

The power numbers were higher this year for Christensen who has taken a better approach at the plate by working the count.

“At the beginning of the season I gained more confidence,” Christensen said. “I learned the pitch count, what she pitch she would throw and coach taught me about being ahead and behind.”

A starter since her sophomore year, Christensen started to take on more of a leadership role on the team this season, mostly leading by example.

“One of the things that was really nice was everyone was upbeat because that was the tone she and others set,” Feikema said. “Jenna is diving at the end of practice at the end of the season.”

Already a solid defensive second baseman, Christensen made the move to shortstop this year and continued to shine, leading one umpire to call her the best defensive shortstop he’s seen. That’s high praise for a player who battles some of the best teams in the state during the regular season with Mankato West and Mankato East. The Scarlets went to stateand finished second, losing to Eagan in the championship.

“It’s a little bit of adjustment to move from second to short,” Christensen said. “I took ground ball after ground ball in practice and it kind of became a habit.”

Understated, but her dedication and commitment to improving has set her apart from other athletes.

“It’s always a big help when your best player has the best attitude and hardest worker,” Feikema said. “She has talent and the correct attitude.”

The desire to improve drives Christensen in each sport she plays whether it’s hockey, soccer or softball.

“In general in every game and every practice I just try to improve and help out my teammates,” Christensen said. “Even if we don’t do well I look at things we can improve on.”

The best part is Feikema has her around for another season.

“She understands what being an athlete is about,” he said. “I would hope that young players could learn from her attitude.”