The Washington commit has been hitting for power this season as 13 of her first 20 hits went for extra bases for the undefeated Mustangs.
Jenn Cummings added something extra to go with her missile-like arm and monstrous bat this softball season: a major dose of confidence.
All have been on full display with the Redmond Mustangs as the sophomore catcher has helped key their 12-0 start, following on the heels of last year’s Class 3A state championship.
Cummings, who accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Washington in November, entered the week batting .741 with 28 RBI, both team highs on a talent-laden squad that also includes junior pitcher Kiki Milloy, a Tennessee commit.
Cummings’ slugging percentage is a ridiculous 1.667 with 13 of her 20 hits going for extra bases, including four home runs and four triples. She’s had at least one hit in every game. She has thrown out all four runners who tried to steal on her and picked off four others who strayed too far off base.
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“I think her confidence in her abilities has been a huge turning point for her,” coach Alison Mitchell said, adding that Cummings “worked her tail off” developing her swing and fine-tuning her mechanics over the past year. “She trusts herself more this year, which is helping her try new things and take more risks.”
Cummings showed plenty of promise as a freshman, earning the starting spot behind the plate and batting .485 with 30 RBI in 26 games, second to Milloy’s whopping 50. She ripped 13 extra-base hits, but just one home run (although it was a big one, in Redmond’s opening game at state) and three triples.
That experience, as well as a season with the Washington Lady Hawks U-16 club (mostly at third base), is among the reasons Cummings cites for this year’s experience, along with her hard work — and that extra confidence.
“This year I’m coming in with more preparation, I know what to expect — I’m not just a freshman now — and I know what’s expected of me as well,” she said. “I think confidence is huge also. I’m definitely more confident in my ability, definitely due to better preparation. And I’ve worked out a lot more this year so I’ve gotten a lot stronger, which has improved my game a lot, I think.”
Milloy calls Cummings “the heartbeat of our team out on the field.”
“She makes sure things get done the right way,” she said.
And keeps the pitchers calm.
“She makes us laugh when it’s a pressure situation and hypes us up when we throw a great pitch,” said Milloy, who is 5-0 along with Sophia Viola, one of just two senior regulars. “Also, she is such a dominating presence that no one dares to run on her.”
Cummings shows her casual side off the field or in the dugout, according to Milloy — and is deadly playing hacky sack, one of the team’s warm-up rituals that includes, in their version, an option to throw the bag.
“She will peg you if she gets a chance,” Milloy said.
Cummings has two older brothers and took up softball early on because the youngest brother, Michael, played baseball and their dad, Jeff, coached.
“I’d always be at the field running around, picking up balls,” she said.
Cummings started out pitching and catching, and grew to love her position behind the plate and the control that comes with it. She started attending UW camps and dreamed of playing for the Huskies, who shared the interest but didn’t extend an official offer until Iowa State made one.
Redmond went into last year’s state tournament as a bit of a darkhorse with two defending champions in the field. Snohomish had dropped down after winning the Class 4A title and Meadowdale looked to repeat in Class 3A. But the Mustangs dominated, winning all four of their games by four runs or more.
“We were hot at the right moment,” Cummings said.
And thanks in part to her sizzling bat, they haven’t cooled off yet.