THE DRILL: Makenzie Allen, a veteran presence on a young Lady Jay softball team

Apr. 2—WORTHINGTON — The softball team at Minnesota West Community and Technical College features a roster mostly filled with newcomers.

The roster consists of 12 total players and only two of them are returners from last season. Even more, only one of those two returners saw significant playing time last year.

That player is Makenzie Allen, and she is off to a hot start to begin this season. The Lady Jays have played three games so far this year and she has a .600 batting average in 10 at bats with three RBIs. She also hit a home run in the team's season-opening win over Minnesota North College-Vermillion.

Allen picked up where she left off from a successful campaign last year. She led the team in plate appearances (58), hits (19) and runs scored (21) and she had a .352 batting average.

"I think I grew and improved as a player last year tremendously. We didn't really have our coach (Keith Swenson) at the beginning, in the fall, but when he came in February, it was like, 'let's get going,'" she said. "And I think him breaking it down, like a college level coach is a lot different than a high school level coach. I mean, the high school coaches have a lot of intelligence on the sport, but college, it's their job. So I mean, he broke down my swing all the way down to the core, so he changed my swing and it really improved."

Throughout her life, including last season with the Lady Jays, her primary position in softball was catcher. But this year, she'll rotate playing shortstop with her catching duties.

Along with being a reliable force on the field, Allen is being relied upon as a veteran leader as well.

"Throughout my education here, and my sports, I would say I'm a lot more comfortable talking with people," she said. I'm not scared to tell you to hustle or like, you know what you're doing, get it done, because I know they're not taking it as a harsh comment. They know that I'm just trying to make them better."

Allen hails from Baltic, South Dakota, where she moved from Watertown her sophomore year of high school. She is someone who has always loved athletics and she played softball and basketball and also ran track in high school.

Once her high school career was over, Allen wanted to continue her education and keep playing a sport in college. She then cohse Minnesota West to be in the law enforcement program there and continue playing softball.

Allen grew up around the sport of softball ever since she could remember and that was a big reason why she wanted to continue playing the sport at the college level.

"I would say I really enjoyed high school track, just the competitiveness of the team, like, I'm just a big team person, I like being on the team," she said. "I knew track was just to make me stronger, and like, keep an athlete in shape. That's what I see track as unless it's your main sport. Softball, I don't know, I've just played softball year round my entire life. I just love softball."

She is the subject of this week's Drill and her full video can be found online at Here is a sample of our interview.

QUESTION: In your opinion, what do you think it takes to be good at the catcher position?

ANSWER: "To be good at the catching position, I would say it takes a lot of time and focus, I would say because focusing on where the ball is going to be with how fast it's coming, and as you get older, it gets faster. So I would just say a lot of time."

QUESTION: What goes through your head as you're stepping up to the plate throughout an at bat?

ANSWER: "When I get up to bat, I just kind of walk myself through the steps of like, stay down. Keep your head on it, like hands to the ball. You've got to learn not to get in your head. Like if you get a strike on you, like stay out of your head because it is a big mental sport. Because as soon as you get in your head, you're gonna keep making mistake after mistake."

QUESTION: What was the recruiting process to Minnesota West like?

ANSWER: "The recruiting process for here, I really didn't send out very much film, or anything. I kinda was just looking education wise, because I mean, I knew I wanted to play sports, but like, I was looking for the best education place. I did talk with the recruiter here and the coach, and they both came down to visit me. And then I signed the same day."