Courtesy of Brad Rempel, Gopher Sports
As a batter, “attacking the pitch” has a very literal meaning to one Gopher sophomore.
Center fielder Ellee Jensen relies on her all-around ability on offense and defense, in addition to her distinctive batting style.
Right fielder MaKenna Partain said Jensen’s best attribute is her vision.
“She’s so talented with her hands,” Partain said. “She has some of the best hand-eye coordination I’ve ever seen in my life. You know she’s going to get on [base.]”
Jensen is a slap hitter, or a slapper. Slap hitting involves walking toward a pitch while staying in the batter’s box. If a batter makes contact with the ball outside of the batter’s box, the batter is called out.
Jensen said slap hitting makes it challenging to hit for power.
“It’s difficult because you’re continuing to move through the box,” Jensen said. “It’s hard. You have to have good timing to power through, but some people are good at it. I haven’t been.”
Since joining the Gophers last season, Jensen’s career batting average is .393. In 2018, she started and played in all 58 games and hit .401, the highest of the group of starters by more than .025. She has seven RBIs and four career doubles. This season, Jensen’s batting average is .346. She has nine hits and two RBIs.
Head coach Jamie Trachsel said Jensen sets the tone for Minnesota when she gets on base.
“With her speed and our lefties following her, it opens up different options to advance runners,” Trachsel said. “You’re not subject to bunting. You can put balls in play. She can steal a base. [Jensen] gives us options in terms of manufacturing and producing runs.”
While Jensen sets the tone offensively, she can also contribute when she’s not at bat. She was third on the Gophers in stolen bases last season, swiping 11 bags on 13 attempts. Defensively, Jensen hasn’t committed an error in her collegiate career and had 45 putouts a year ago. Last season, she was the lone starter to not commit a fielding error.
“She’s a natural outfielder,” Trachsel said. “She reads the ball well. She has natural angles to the ball. She’s fearless. She has good body control, which allows her to field a lot balls on extension or lay out and steal some hits diving for the ball. When there’s a ball that’s in play that she can get to, she’s going to make the play.”
Jensen said she utilizes her speed in all aspects of the game and not solely on base running.
“It gives me an advantage because I can get there a little quicker,” she said. “When I’m on the bases, I can look one extra base and be able to get there.”