It didn’t feel out of the ordinary.
That’s almost unfair to say. Julia Jensen’s ordinary is atypical.
As a sophomore, Jensen was the ace for one of the best softball teams in the nation that broke through for its first state title in nearly two decades. She’s the do-it-all softballer who will throw a complete-game shutout and hit a couple home runs (she ranks 11th in state history with 26 in her career) in a 2-0 win.
But she much prefers to make headlines, rather than talk about them.
Some prep athletes enjoy the opportunity to do postgame interviews with the local paper. Others, not so much. Jensen undoubtedly falls into the latter category. She’s as humble as she is dominant.
That’s why, for her, it felt routine.
After striking out the side in the bottom of the fifth inning in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Reno, she jogged to the dugout as she always does. For Jensen, it was normal day, a normal inning, and like normal, the Raiders were leading, 2-0. That’s what made the reaction from her teammates and coaches so peculiar.
“I had no idea. At all. I didn’t know why they were hugging me,” Jensen said after the Raiders pulled out a 3-2 nine-inning win, their 18th straight. “People were hugging me and I didn’t know why.”
They were embracing her because she just accomplished something only two other pitchers in state history have ever managed.
She struck out her 1,000th career batter in the midst of a 27-strikout day that included a one-hitter in game one and a nine-inning complete game in night cap.
Julia Jensen strikes out the side in the fifth and now has 1,000 in her career. That’s incredible.
She has nine today as Raiders lead 2-0.
— Nathan Shoup (@Trib_Shoup) April 22, 2017
“We don’t try to make too big of a deal over personal accomplishments, but there are a couple that need to be recognized and that was certainly one of them,” Reed coach Jon Wunder said.
It’s highly unlikely Jensen catches any of the two that reached 1,000 strikeouts before her. Brianne McGowan fanned 1,318 from 2000-03 at Wooster before going on to Oregon State and now serves as an assistant at Nevada. Shannon Crisp sat down 1,234 at Centennial from 2001-04 then played at UNLV.
What is likely, even certain, is that before Jensen continues her career at Nevada, she will be regarded one of the best softball players in state history.
Her stats are hard to fathom, even for a sport that’s known for producing upside down numbers.
In her four years at Reed, she’s compiled an 88-8 record with a 1.15 ERA over 572 innings. Her four-digit strikeouts are compared with just 95 walks.
Her 34 wins as a sophomore broke McGowan’s previous record of 32 set in 2002.
At the plate, she’s almost scored as many runs (67) as she’s allowed in the circle (94). Her 109 career RBIs are 18 shy of 10th on Nevada’s all-time list. She’s one home run short of moving into a tie for 10th all time. Her career batting average rests at .409.
Reed has compiled a 126-15-2 record in her four seasons, including three regional titles, one state title as well as second- and third-place finishes at state.
As of Saturday, the Raiders (23-2-1, 13-2) sit in a first-place tie with Spanish Springs and have seven regular-season games left before the regional tournament starts May 11 at Bishop Manogue.
If you ask Jensen, the seemingly illusory statistics don’t matter (see: was unaware she made history on Saturday). She cares much more about the tournament at Reno’s lone 4A private school next month, and the tournament the following weekend at Bishop Gorman.
Reed is one of the few programs in the nation that can finish third in the state (as it did last year) and be disappointed. As she moves her way up the history books in countless categories, she chases not numbers, but rings.
“I just try to stay tough,” Jensen said. “You never know what is going to happen.”
That’s what makes her extraordinary.
Nathan can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. His weekly column, ‘Shoup Shots,’ was named the best column in the state of Nevada (community division) by the Nevada Press Association. It runs in the hard copy of the Sparks Tribune every Tuesday morning. Nathan’s weekly radio show airs Fridays at noon on ESPN Radio 94.5 FM.