In the 30-year history of UC San Diego Softball, no one has hit the “long ball” like Triton junior Jenny Maze. The red-headed third baseman out of San Clemente High School has already smacked eight home runs this season to run her career total to an all-time UCSD best of 21. So far in 2007, she’s also driven in a team-leading 29 runs, scored 23 times and sports a .298 batting average. “Jenny’s not just a home run hitter,” says Head Coach Patti Gerckens. “She’s one of our most consistent batters and has really come through in the clutch. She’s improved tremendously.” The Tritons, who are currently third in the CCAA standings, play at the Mizuno Tournament of Champions in Northern California this weekend then play 10 consecutive games at home. Before heading into this critical stretch, Maze took time to talk about her hitting, her team and the outlook for her team.
Q—How did it feel to break the UCSD career home run record as a junior?
MAZE—Amazing. I wasn’t actively focusing on the record, but I knew if I just stayed focused on hitting the ball hard that it would come eventually.
Q—At about the midway point of the 2007 season, you’ve already hit more home runs than you had in either of your first two years. What’s behind the power surge?
MAZE—I think my approach as a hitter has become more advanced, especially since last year. I’m trying now more than ever to focus on hitting line drives and ground balls. Lately, that’s been translating into more home runs.
Q—Two of your home runs have been walk-off game-winners. Are you consciously looking to hit a home run in those situations?
MAZE—Definitely not. Anytime you go up to bat thinking like that, chances are its not going to happen. I just like being up in those situations, and I’m happy that I’ve been able to come through when my team needs me.
Q—The team is currently 14-8 in CCAA play and third in the conference standings. Going forward, what are the keys to making the four-team CCAA Championship tournament?
MAZE—We just need to continue doing the things that make us successful. Defensively, our No. 1 pitcher Melissa (Ward) is a huge key to our success. We need to keep up solid defense behind her with as few errors as possible. Offensively, we just need to continue to string hits together, come up clutch and focus on being tough outs.
Q—Who were some of the players you looked up to when you first came to UCSD? Do you try to play a leadership role now on what is something of a young team?
MAZE—When I first came to UCSD as a player I really looked up to the seniors on the team. They showed me such a great respect and love for the game which was something that I didn’t have previously. I realized that the game was much bigger than me. As far as a leadership role, I am conscious of the fact that I am probably looked up to by the younger players. I try my best to be a positive role model and instill in the younger players the same love and respect of the game that was instilled in me when I was a freshman.
Q—Speaking of young players, a number of freshmen and sophomores get significant playing time—which of the younger players do you expect to be the biggest contributors down the stretch in 2007?
MAZE—I think that each individual regardless of playing time has the ability to contribute tremendously to our success. But the younger players have definitely stepped it up a lot and are already major factors on our team.
Q—What is the most difficult thing about playing third base?
MAZE—You tend to get very hard hit balls and have a short amount of time to react and play them which can be challenging at times. I don’t look at that as being difficult though. I enjoy the challenge.
Q—Have you ever been nicked by a line drive or bad hop?
MAZE—Daily! But battle scars come with playing the game.
Q—What type of process do you use in studying an opposing pitcher before you face her?
MAZE—I get information from the batters who hit before me about what she’s throwing. If I’ve faced her before I look at charts from previous at bats. Other than that, I just go up confident and try to hit the ball hard.
Q—Which player(s) on your team get the most out of their ability?
MAZE—To me, Dani Lukk and Randi Bundy really epitomize this characteristic. They really maximize their talents, and their work ethics are absolutely phenomenal.
Q-Softball seems to be a sport where players go through a lot of little routines. What are some of the routines practiced by the UCSD Softball team?
MAZE—There are too many to list all of them. The team as a whole has little things from walking up to the field in a certain order, putting out gear in the exact same spot every game, and having the exact same warm up every game. Individually I’m sure each player could list off many habits and superstitions as well.
Q—Besides playing softball, what do you like about UCSD?
MAZE—All the great friends I have made.
Q—Do you have any long range plans after you graduate?
MAZE—I don’t really know what kind of profession I would like to go into but I know that one long range goal I do have is to get married and having a family. I can’t wait!
Q—The team has never made the NCAA Division II Playoffs, will this year be the first time?
MAZE—That’s the goal!
Previous Q&A Articles
Zach Johnson (Men's Crew Head Coach) March 18, 2007
Michelle Osier (Women's Basketball) March 7, 2007
Brooks Dierdorff (Men's Volleyball) March 1, 2007
Scott Clement (Baseball) February 15, 2007
Chelsea Ambort (Women's Fencing) January 29, 2007
Meaghan Noud (Women's Basketball) January 15, 2006
Susan Bell (Women's Swimming) January 6, 2007
Tim Fuller (Men's Swimming) December 20, 2006
Alexis Mezzetta (Women's Basketball) December 10, 2006
Clint Allard (Men's Basketball) November 30, 2006
Kristin Halvorsen (Women's Volleyball) November 18, 2006
Adnan Jerkovic (Men's Water Polo (November 1, 2006)
Caitlin Ryan (Women's Soccer) October 24, 2006
Amber Ries (Women's Volleyball) Sep. 24, 2006
Chase Douglas (Men's Soccer) Sep. 13, 2006
Diane Dunn (Women's Cross Country) Sep. 5, 2006
Jesse Casellini (Men's Water Polo) Sep. 1, 2006
Nicole Courtney (Women's Volleyball) Aug. 18, 2006
Chelsey Campbell (Women's Soccer) Aug. 9, 2006
Dan Holligan (Men's Cross Country) Aug. 2, 2006)