Danner Allen signs to play softball at Liberty University
You can find her name at the top of almost every statistic from last season. When coaches and staff say Danner Allen led the Randolph-Henry High (R-H) softball team, they’re not exaggerating. The senior was part of a team that went 20-2 overall, 12-0 in the region. But it’s the numbers that stand out most.
The left-handed pitcher and first baseman had 19 wins and a 0.49 ERA (earned run average) on the season. She was first on the team in batting average, hitting .431 and first in on base percentage as well, at .582%. Add in her .724 slugging percentage and her three home runs, also good enough for first and you start to get the general idea. It’s fair to say she had a dominant season, helping her team to the playoffs. And now, Allen will set her sights on new goals, as she’s officially signed to play at Liberty University.
“Danner is one of those athletes that a coach gets maybe once in a lifetime,” Randolph-Henry softball coach Mike Adams said. “As a pitcher, she led the state of Virginia in strikeouts her sophomore year, with 344. She has 810 for her career. She has really grown over the last three years, not just developing her talent, but in a leadership role, she’s really stepped up.”
Adams says having someone like her on the field is the difference between winning and losing ballgames, not just because of the talent involved, but due to how she keeps the team on track.
“She’s one of these people that always puts the team first,” Adams said. “She worries about the team more than herself or individual accolades. She wants the team to succeed.”
Building the program
Allen becomes just the third player in Randolph-Henry softball history to sign with a Division I NCAA program. Things like that help develop interest in Randolph-Henry softball, Adams said, but not as much as the personal effort he’s seen Allen give. Over the last three years, the local Dixie softball teams, the younger girls, have started coming to Randolph-Henry games.
“I’ve been here 12 years coaching and the last two or three years are the first time we’ve seen people bring teams to watch us play,” Adams said. “And that’s partly because of Danner. I’ve heard some of the Dixie girls say ‘someday I want to be like that’ or ‘someday I want to be playing like her’ and it has an impact.”
Adams also pointed out that Allen takes time out to work with the Dixie players as well, spending 30 minutes to an hour sometimes helping girls develop their pitching technique.
All of that, from the work ethic to the talent who gives back makes Liberty Coach Dot Richardson believe Allen won’t take long to be noticed in Lynchburg.
“Danner Allen will make an immediate impact in the circle,” Richardson said in a statement. “She is a southpaw who has an arsenal of pitches and above all (is) a competitor who wants the ball.”
Richardson points to Allen’s overall 46-5 record with 811 strikeouts in her first three years, along with an overall ERA under 0.50, as reasons why. But that’s not to dismiss her batting ability either. Richardson said she could see the possibility of Allen starting even when she’s not on the mound.
“Danner has the potential to be a dynamic two-way player for us,” Richardson said. “She hits from the left side and has consistency and power.”
Danner Allen prepares for final season
As she prepares for her final season at Randolph-Henry, Statesman athletic director Chris Holt says we haven’t seen her best performance yet.
“Danner has been a dominant pitcher at the high school level since she arrived at Randolph-Henry,” Holt said. “The most impressive thing is she put the work in. You have team practices, but you see her doing a lot of work on her own, with her dad and with other teammates. With that work ethic and the determination she has, I don’t think she’s reached her ceiling at all.”