Jennifer Madu, among nation’s fastest sprinters, fills in as playoff softball pinch runner

Cameron Smith
May 22, 2012

There are speedy softball players, and then there is Plano (Texas) East High senior Jennifer Madu. One of the nation's fastest female sprinters, Madu became the ultimate late-season addition to a roster when she joined the school's softball team after the conclusion of the track and field campaign to serve solely as a pinch runner.

Jennifer Madu, on right, after winning the 100 meters at the World Youth Championships — Facebook
Jennifer Madu, on right, after winning the 100 meters at the World Youth Championships — Facebook

Talk about an unfair advantage.

As you might guess, Madu — who won four events at the recent UIL Class 5A state track meet — is definitely the fastest base runner in the state of Texas. It's possible that she's the fastest base runner in the entire nation. The trick, as the Dallas Morning News noted, is that she had never even run the bases until just days before her first-ever varsity game, a milestone which happened to come in the Class 5A Region I semifinals.

"She's friends with a lot of our girls, and she was like, 'When I'm done with state, I'll come out and run for you,'" Plano East coach Karen Kalhoefer told the Morning News. "I put her on our UIL roster before we even started playoffs.

"She came out [Wednesday], and I gave her a helmet and gave her some cleats. The girls, their jaws just dropped. ... She's the fastest runner I've ever had."

As it turns out, it didn't take Madu long to acclimatize to her new running surroundings. Madu, who will run for Texas A&M beginning in the fall, scored multiple times during her first weekend in the diamond in Plano East's sweep of Lubbock (Texas) Coronado High on Friday and Saturday.

In the process, she also showcased the speed that led Kalhoefer to give her a completely unique set of instructions: If she ever overruns a base, don't turn back, just beat the throw to the next one.

"I was telling her, if she ran through a bag, because she's used to running through things, then just go to the next one," Kalhoefer said.

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