SOuth Alabama

It’s safe to say South Alabama’s “Extra Mile Award” is self-explanatory.

The 2021 Extra Mile Award winner with the softball program doesn’t need much explaining either if you ask softball head coach Becky Clark.

“The Extra Mile Award is not just about effort but mentality. It’s just a winning mentality that you’re going to be the best in everything you do,” Clark said. “I think that sums up Abby Allen… She’s the kind of person you can build a program around.”

Allen, who graduated from Ouachita High School in 2020 with a school-record 56 career home runs, did not hit the ground running at South Alabama. No, it was quite the opposite if you ask Allen.

“I was not mentally there,” Allen said. “I felt like I had to prove myself to them. I was trying to do too much that it just went downhill. I never stopped working and never gave up.”

Allen entered South Alabama with a ton of hype after her incredible prep softball career. In fact, before Allen ever stepped foot on campus, she was featured in an article on the school's website along with fellow freshman Olivia Lackie. 

"I was like Olivia is living up to these expectations and I'm not," Allen said. "It's not like high school. If you strike out twice in a game, you're going to get pulled." 

The work never stopped, but the struggles continued. Finally, Allen met with Clark to try and understand why she struggled so often early on into her career. 

"I was just lost," Allen said. "I didn’t know what to do or what to think anymore. She told me stop caring so much. 'You’re just trying to do too much. Just stop caring so much. I don’t mean not care, but you’re just caring too much.' After that, it was like OK… It’s a game. Let’s go have fun with my teammates." 

Allen saw her production at the plate increase and she finished the season with a .213 batting average to go along with three home runs. 

As a utility player, Allen played some first base but spent most of her time as the team's designated hitter. During the good and bad times, Allen put in the work. And that's what earned the respect from her teammates and coaches who voted her as this year's Extra Mile winner. 

"I'm glad I got my struggles out of the way my freshman year," Allen said. "I got caught up trying not to make mistakes, which led to a lot of them. It's go time now. We're ready to get back to work." 

Would you expect anything less from someone who goes the extra mile? 

Award-winning sports writer for columns and features since joining the field in 2013. As the first-ever featured columnist of the month at Bleacher Report, Martin cut his teeth with online media before joining the newspaper business in 2014.

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