By LARRY VAUGHT
It’s not really a surprise that senior second baseman Alex Martens was named to the preseason All-Southeastern Conference softball team based on the numbers she put up in 2019 when she set a school record by driving in 66 runs while also hitting .310 with 13 home runs.
Want more? She had a .588 slugging percentage and got on base 37.3 percent of her at-bats. She started all 60 games and helped UK reach the NCAA Tournament for the third time in her three years.
Kentucky opened the season at the NFCA Lead-Off Classic in Clearwater, Fla., with four wins — Martens homered twice and drive in four runs — and is in Tempe,Ariz., this weekened for five games in the Littlewood Classic. Martens shared these insights before UK played its first game.
Question: What did it mean to you to make the preseason all-SEC team?
Martens: “That’s awesome. That is super surreal. I wouldn’t think coming here and playing for four years and working as hard as all of us work to get where we are and playing with and behind the seniors that graduated last year, this year I focused on settling in to a leadership role. Being a vocal leader, not just leading by example. It’s really cool to see that the people who vote for that and the coaches around the SEC see that.”
Question: What do you do to top last year?
Martens: “Right now I am just focusing on this year is last one, best one. I am focusing on living in each individual moment. This is the last time I am going to be playing with these girls who mean so much to me and last time I will be wearing this school across my chest. The game will take care of itself. You just have to trust you put in enough work and the results will show.”
Question: Does it seem like it has been a quick four years here for you since you got to Kentucky from Illinois?
Martens: “Yes. Four years gone like that. I keep telling the freshmen that. I remember my freshman year sitting here thinking, ‘Gosh these workouts suck. This is so hard. So exhausting.’ Then the seniors kept telling us it would go by so fast and I thought it would take forever. Now I have six months left and it’s just surreal looking at each individual moment how I got here today. It’s just amazing.”
Question: Was there a time you thought you might be a college volleyball payer?
Martens: “I did play softball, volleyball and basketball all through high school. I quit basketball my senior year because I had torn my meniscus (in my knee) my junior year and didn’t want to risk playing basketball but I did play volleyball in the fall (of my senior year) which was not smart but I couldn’t not play. If I couldn’t play softball in college, I would wholeheartedly have gone volleyball. I am 6-foot, I am athletic, I love volleyball. If I would have taken that route, I would have done that. But I am here and I would want anything else.
Question: How good were you in volleyball?
Martens: “I am pretty athletic and I am tall. I think once you are tall you can get away with a lot more as an athlete. If I had chosen that path I would have gone as hard as I did for softball and would have hoped it had the same outcome but who knows. I ended up here, though, and I love being here.”