Jenna Ergle became the only softball player in Alabama High School Athletic Association history to break 100 runs batted in for a season when she had 127 as a freshman in 2014.
And then she went out and did the same thing in each of the three years that followed – 103 as a sophomore, 106 as a junior and 124 this season. Her total of 460 is a national record for a four-year career.
“Any time you have any kind of record it’s an honor,” said Ergle, the Boston College-bound star from Sumiton Christian (Ala.). “I don’t focus on numbers so when I found out it was a pleasant surprise.”
Given that 127 RBI is a number that is hard to ignore, Ergle also saw her walks increase in each succeeding year of her high school career – from 25 to 41 to 53. (She also played varsity in eighth grade.).
Ergle had seven walks in eight plate appearances in the 1A state finals – Summiton had to beat three-time defending 1A champion Brantley to win the crown.
Summiton Christian (56-9) won the 1A state title after winning the 2A title the last two seasons. The team rallied to win five consecutive postseason games to fight out of the losers’ bracket following a loss in the second game of the state tournament.
“Coaches started paying more attention when I was in the lineup, which created a lot more pitching around,” she said of her walks total. “Each year I’ve increased in walks just from coaches hearing about me. Coaches started pitching around me more in key situations.”
Despite her astronomical offensive numbers, she found that some SEC coaches thought she was too small to be a corner infielder at 5-3. She ended up visiting Boston College and was smitten with the program and the academics. She plans to major in sociology.
BC coach Ashley Obrest said finding players who hit for power was a must in the 2017 recruiting class and Ergle fits that bill. She also is among the tops in state history in home runs and doubles.
Heading to Boston College will be the latest step in a change in geography. Ergle is originally from Lake Elsinore in California and then moved to Alabama.
“I went from 300 kids in my class to 30, and everyone always being in a rush to everyone being laid back,” she said. “Everybody in the south is always nice to you even if they don’t know you.
“As far as softball, there were not as many travel ball team to choose from like out in California so it has given me the opportunity to travel to other states and play.”
Ergle has played travel ball with the Birmingham Thunderbolts and helped the program earn a third-place finish at the PGF national championship last summer. She is continuing to play for the program this summer before heading to college.
That experience has helped her continue to grow as a player after setting the RBI record as a freshman.
“I’m much more confident in my ability to play with the anyone,” she said. “My knowledge of the game has grown every year.”