Allison Pingel broke the Three Rivers career home run record Monday.
Pingel hit her 23rd home run and second of the season when she sent an 0-2 pitch over the wall against Lyon JV, as Three Rivers (11-2) swept the doubleheader, winning the opener 10-4 and the nightcap 10-3.
"It is a lot off my shoulders to be completely honest. I've been in a little bit of a slump and today I had to come out here with a completely different mindset and clear my head. I had to stop worrying about what I was going to do and start having fun again," said Pingel, who tied the record on March 2 in Three Rivers' third game of the season, but then went eight games without a home run.
"I had to just remind myself that everyone has bad days, bad weeks, and that is just part of softball. If we don't go through those ups and downs then we're not really getting any better. We're not learning from what we're doing. And I think I had to realize that I needed to learn from my mistakes, clear my head, and realize that my teammates are always going to be there to back me up."
Pingel eclipsed Destiny Bolen's 2015-16 record of 22 home runs, set just two years ago. Bolen hit seven her freshman season and 15 as a sophomore. Pingel, though, is well ahead of that pace and has a chance to put some serious distance between her numbers and her predecessors.
"That's a pretty big deal. Our program has been around awhile now. Almost three decades," Three Rivers coach Jeff Null said. "It's a tough record to break. Allison is a special hitter and we're lucky she's playing on our team."
She hit 21 home runs as a freshman, nine more than any previous Three Rivers freshman and beating Bolen's single-season record of 15.
With more than 40 games left on the season, a more relaxed Pingel would nearly double the career home run numbers of any Three Rivers player in history.
"She could put some distance between her and everyone else," Null said. "She hit one early to tie it, so the last few games it feels like she's been pressing a little bit."
Last season, Pingel also broke the Three Rivers single-season RBI and slugging percentage records. She hit 84 RBIs, breaking Lauren Reinagel's 2012 record of 62, and finished with a .864 slugging percentage to top Jennifer Rains' 1992 record of .726. Her .455 batting average was good for fourth all-time and led the team, giving her the team triple crown as a freshman. She would later be named an NJCAA All-American.
The next record to drop is likely to be the career RBI record.
Pingel had three RBIs in the sweep, giving her 14 for the season and just 11 shy of Reinagel's career record or 109.
From 2004-05, Stephanie Stowe hit 10 home runs and was the first Lady Raider to hit double-digit home runs for her career.
That record stood until 2013 and has since fallen almost annually.
Cindy Nippe hit 13 from 2012-13, edging out teammate Sydney Davied who had 11 during the same stretch.
The next season, Jessica Menz matched the record and Taylor Friend was one home run shy to finish with 12 for her career.
But that same season, freshman Demesha Huddleston had 10 home runs, becoming the first Three Rivers freshman to hit double digits, and she added seven as a sophomore.
As Huddleston was putting space between her and the field, it looked like freshman Abby Tillotson was going to break the record, too.
Tillotson hit 12 home runs to break Huddleston's freshman record but left in the offseason to play for Southeast Missouri State University.
As it turns out, Tillotson wasn't the Lady Raider to watch. Also a freshman that year was Bolen, who hit seven home runs to tie for second on the team with Huddleston.
She found her form as a sophomore for 15 home runs, setting the single-season and career records as the Lady Raiders struggled to a 16-44 season.
Only three players — Lexi Morris, Courtney Slayton and Ally Hendricks, all local recruits — returned for their sophomore season from that team as Three Rivers hired Jeff Null to be the head coach.
With the change, Hendricks burst onto the scene with 10 home runs after getting just 19 at-bats during her freshman season and not hitting any home runs. Prior to 2013, just four years earlier, her 10 homers would have matched both the single-season and career records.
And last year of course, Pingel made that a mute point with 21 home runs as a freshman.
Quietly, Kristyn Carpenter and is also climbing the record books.
The Three Rivers shortstop had 10 home runs last season and hit two more against Lyon JV to give her four for the season. Her 14 home runs put her fourth all-time behind Pingel (23), Bolen (22) and Huddleston (17).
"I think it is a little bit of we brought in some talented kids, a little bit of our hitting program and our weight program," Null said of all the home runs since 2012. "We've got girls hitting home runs who, when they got here, they couldn't hit it out. I just really think it's a lot on them for putting in the work and we are giving them the opportunity daily to get better."
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic