Junior utility player Jenna Cone cemented herself in softball program history for the second time as the new leader in runs batted in during a Saturday contest against Saint Louis.
Cone ascended to the No. 1 spot in program RBIs with a two-run bomb that pushed her to 174 career RBIs. Her contributions have helped lead the Colonials to a 30–11 overall record, the best in the Atlantic 10.
“It’s her presence, her confidence, she’s got a great approach, but again it’s just a confident player who’s able to do spectacular things,” head coach Shane Winkler said after a win over Saint Louis Sunday. “When you have one player like that, offense is completely contagious and we’ve got a lot of great offensive players.”
This season, Cone has collected 54 RBIs through 41 games, putting her on pace for nearly 72 RBIs on the season. Cone passed 2015-graduate shortstop Victoria Valos’ 4-year-old record of 170 RBIs in less than three years.
“RBIs are kind of my favorite,” Cone said. “I try not to look at stats but if I do, RBIs are what’s most important.”
Cone set a new program record in career home runs last month when she launched a grand slam over the right-field wall in the bottom of the sixth inning to help her team claw back to win 5–4 over Manhattan.
The shot was her 37th round-tripper as a Colonial and she has 16 home runs this season alone – six more than the runner-up in the A-10. She is now tied for sixth in home runs among all Division I softball players with 46 career home runs.
Cone’s 18 homers set a new GW single-season record for out-of-the-park knocks her rookie campaign, and she is set to eclipse that figure this season. She also occupies second on the list with the 12 home runs during her sophomore season.
“She’s so important to this team. I genuinely don’t know what I would do without her as a teammate anyway, but she’s just so powerful in every area of this game,” junior utility Jessica Linquist – who is currently riding a program-best 28-game hit streak – said after the team’s game against Saint Louis Sunday. “She’s unbeatable against so many teams.”
Her power-hitting abilities are reflected in her .872 slugging percentage – .173 higher than any of her teammates. Cone already holds first and second place in single-season slugging percentage in program history after she owned a .822 slugging percentage at the end of her rookie campaign.
Cone also set single-season records for RBIs in both her freshman and sophomore campaigns. She brought 59 teammates home in her first year in Foggy Bottom and reeled in 61 last year.
“It’s just a great testament to all of the awesome coaches I’ve had before, like early on in my career and now,” Cone said after facing Saint Louis. “I think it’s just awesome to do stuff for the program and I don’t know, I just hope to keep pushing myself and get better every day.”
Cone’s performances also raise her teammates to new levels. Winkler, the head coach, slated her second in the order and said her status as a premier hitter provides opportunities for the rest of the lineup.
“Jenny is a threat every time she steps to the plate,” Winkler said. “What’s helping us is we have so much production around her. If the team pitches around her, they’re in trouble so it’s kind of pick your poison.”
The Colonials lead the A-10 in nearly every batting statistic this season. The team’s collective .362 batting average is the best in the conference, partly because of the predicament that Cone’s power puts opponents in. The Colonials have collected 413 hits on the year – 155 more than the conference runner-up Massachusetts.
“One through nine, we’re all doing really well which is super cool to see,” Cone said. “If you try to get through one girl and then you realize that the next girl is up and you’re like, ‘Oh no, I have to face her too.’”
The Colonials return to action against Massachusetts Saturday on the road. First pitch is at noon.