When Ali Naumann was a freshman softball player at Tipton-Rosemark four years ago, she collided with the University School of Jackson catcher so hard while trying to score that the opposing player was left unconscious.
It was at the point that head coach Johnie Sanfratello began to realize what kind of player he had on his hands.
Before Naumann signed her scholarship with Dyersburg State Community College Wednesday afternoon, DSCC head coach George White compared her to Lenny Dykstra, a former major league baseball player nick-named “Nails” because of his toughness.
“That’s a very, very good comparison,” Sanfratello said. “She’s mean sometimes, just like him, just a dirt baller. She is tough and goes hard every time she’s out there … She’s killing it this year and it comes from that work ethic. She wants to be good.”
“She’s so athletic,” White said. “She’s a Division I ball player. That’s all there is to it. She can run, she defends, has a great arm in the outfield and at the plate she’s just a tough out. I think her best years are ahead of her.”
Hitting in the three-hole this year after being a leadoff hitter for much of her career, Naumann is hitting .486 with three home runs and 32 RBIs on a team that just finished off a perfect league record and state tournament aspirations. Her career batting average of .373, on-base percentage of .436 and 41 stolen bases each rank in the top five all-time at TRA.
She’s also on the verge of breaking several single-season records and would rank even higher on the all-time lists if most of last season had not been cancelled by COVID.
Naumann smiled when asked from where her toughness comes.
“I think it comes from your coaches’ and your parents’ influence on you,” she said. “If you have coaches who won’t give up on you you’re not going to quit yourself. You just have to know you can do it.”