By LARRY VAUGHT
During her first two seasons at Kentucky, Alex Martens drove in 68 runs . This year going into this weekend’s NCAA Super Regional at Washington, she has already driven in a school single-season record 66 runs.
She broke the record Sunday in an 11-1 win over Virginia Tech that put UK into the Super Regional with a two-run double and then a three-run homer that totally broke the game open. She had four hits, four runs scored, a home run and three RBI in the NCAA Lexington Regional last season.
Martens, a .315 hitter this year who has started all 58 games, downplayed what she had done. Instead, she credited teammates — especially seniors Jenny Schaper, Katie Reed and Abbey Cheek who bat before her in the lineup (Cheek is UK’s all-time RBI leader with 202, including 53 this year).
“If you look at the stats and numbers from this team, the numbers are drastically changing and growing. It has to do with them getting on base and the amount of times they get on base and that’s how RBIs happen, so I have to give all the credit to them for their on-base percentages and their batting averages,” Martens said.
“That how RBIs come. It helped during the season that they were walking Abbey almost every at bat because there was always a runner on base and there is a different mindset knowing that you are going to have a base runner automatically when you are in the box. That was a learning experience.”
Cheek, the SEC Player of the Year, not only hit a team best .441 with 20 homers but she also waked 64 times. Reed is hitting .371 with 69 hits and 12 walks. Schaper, the leadoff batter, is a .315 hitter who has walked 25 times. Cheek has scored 54 runs, Reed 43 and Schaper 37.
Kentucky coach Rachel Lawson was not surprised by the humble approach Martens took to her record-setting year or big game Sunday.
“That’s what I expect from Alex. No, I’m just kidding. I say this all the time: I recruited Alex because she has the ‘it’ factor. And I don’t know what makes Alex tick; I just know that she ticks at a very high level,” Lawson said.
“She’s somebody who – Alex gets yelled at a lot by me because she can take it and because I know she can be that great. And so for me, I’m just happy that she’s realizing her potential because she’s always had that potential.”
Lawson was not finished bragging on her second baseman, who also started a key double play Sunday with UK leading only 3-1 at the time.
“She’s an exceptional ball player. She has an exceptional mind. But, she really is that humble,” Lawson said. “At times I have to yell at her to be a little bit more selfish.
“When she kind of figured out that she had to be a bit more selfish is when you started to see the RBIs come a little bit more easy. Anyway, I’m just proud of her that she was able to do that for herself.”