She is the softball player with a record-breaking season and has taken home runs per season to a new high. Junior catcher Emilee Lepp set the Division III season record at 27 home runs and counting as the Wildcats advance to the Regional Tournament.
It was the home game against Pacific Lutheran University on April 28 in the final game of the tournament that cinched the home run record for Lepp.
“I don’t think anyone can really imagine breaking records or having a personal best season,” Lepp said in an email. “You kind of go into the season thinking that it will probably be similar to the one last year and you hope that you get better and improve, but it’s hard to imagine a season where you do something that you’ve never even come close to doing before.”
Her record smashed the previous Linfield record and the D-III record set by Mandy Carnes of Muskingum University in 2002. Lepp, a 2010 second-team All-American, was named National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III Co-National Player of the Week for games played during April 12-19.
“Emilee has a great combination of explosive strength, hand-eye coordination and tremendous work ethic,” head coach Jackson Vaughan said in an email. “Those things combined with a few adjustments to her swing and the increased understanding of hitting mechanics and mental toughness that she has gained as a three-year starter have all given her the opportunity to have a record breaking season.”
Vaughan commented on the unexpectedness for the season.
“I can’t say that I expected 27 home runs, but it does not totally surprise me after watching her over the last two seasons and seeing what she is capable of in our batting practice and team scrimmage situations,” Vaughan said in an email.
Lepp set the record of most home runs in a single season and has all-around outstanding statistics. She leads the team with 82 RBIs, 72 hits and 62 runs scored.
“With having such a good season so far, I expect for that to continue into the post season. Our team, as a whole, has so much potential and talent if we play up to our level and make teams play up to us instead of us playing down to them,” she said.
Lepp balances playing for a nationally ranked team with her studies of exercise science.
“School and softball are always challenging to juggle because to be such a successful team, we have to put the work and effort into becoming that,” Lepp said in an email.
Concentrating in the classroom and focusing on being a leader on the field are outstanding examples of Lepp’s determination.
“I simply expect her to continue to be a great leader by example. The way in which Emilee practices and strives for excellence in the classroom are things that all of our players can model in their own quest for success,” Vaughan said.
Determined to finish the post season strong, Lepp has high expectations for her team.
“Our team has the perspective of ‘taking it,’ meaning that we have the mentality that we are going to take every single game,” Lepp said in an email. “It’s our game to take and our game to win, so going into the postseason, we take it game by game and take every single game and not let the other teams hang around long enough to make it interesting.”
The Wildcats move on to compete in the NCAA Divsion III Regional Tournament on May 12. Venue, time and opponent are to be determined.
Corrina Crocker/Sports editor
Corrina Crocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.