Monroe softball player Morgan Allen will continue her career at the University of Washington. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Monroe softball player Morgan Allen will continue her career at the University of Washington. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Monroe softball team standout has fortitude, determination

Morgan Allen’s physical skills have never really been in doubt, but one of the main factors in her development into an elite softball player is her mental approach.

The Monroe senior catcher/shortstop enjoys the cerebral part of the game. She wants to absorb as much information and instruction as she can. She loves to discover new ways of doing things, and isn’t afraid to ask questions. She said she believes there’s a reason for everything she does on the diamond.

“It’s interesting to me because I think so many people think it’s just a simple sport, but there’s so many things you have to think about at one time,” Allen said. “It’s really fascinating. My travel team, the (Tacoma-based) Sundodgers, they work with our mental games more than our physical games. We do classroom sessions, and I understand the game 1,000 times better than I used to.

“My travel teams have helped me become mentally stronger and be smarter with my decisions on the field.”

Allen is meticulous in her preparations, to say the least.

“She used to come up to me before some of the games with two pages full of notes on the opponent’s batters, breaking down what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are,” Monroe coach Mike Birch said. “Her softball IQ (is high). She’s just really, really smart out there.”

She’s good at setting goals, and equally good at achieving them.

“Her determination has allowed her to succeed,” said Randy Seidlitz, who coached Allen for five years when Allen played for the Washington Blaze youth squads. “I started working with her when she was 10, and at that time she wasn’t confident in herself, but she wanted to be good player, and she had natural ability. During the next few years we worked on her confidence, and she gained it slowly but surely. Now she’s a confident player, determined to do what she wants to do.”

Allen has combined her intelligence, determination and natural ability to become one of the best players in Snohomish County. The three-time All-Wesco 4A selection has signed an NCAA letter of intent to continue her softball career at the University of Washington.

“Most of my Sundodgers coaches are former UW players. I learn a lot from them about where I’m going to go. I have a very close bond with my head coach, Shawna Wright, who was a catcher (at UW),” Allen said. “(During the recruiting process) my thinking became, ‘I want to play for a national championship.’ UW’s done that. They’ve been there. I’m hoping I’ll be there when they do it again.”

One of the things that made Allen so appealing to college programs and such a threat at the high school level is her versatility — she can serve multiple roles offensively and defensively.

For the first two-and-a-half seasons of her prep career, Allen served as the Bearcats’ catcher, but she moved to shortstop toward the end of last year, and is slated for regular duty at that spot this spring.

“She’s a true utility player,” Seidlitz said. “She’s learned to play a lot of positions. She’s become a much better fielder. She has a cannon arm, tracks fly balls well and has become a very good shortstop.”

Allen can also do a lot of things to help Monroe score runs. For most of her career she’s been a middle-of-the-order power hitter, but last season, the Bearcats’ coaching staff, taking notice of her increased speed, asked her to do some slap-hitting. She hit .369, with a .400 on-base percentage, a .548 slugging percentage and three home runs.

“She’s very, very versatile at the plate,” Birch said. “She’s gotten faster over the last couple of years, and for a small-stature kind of player, she’s got a lot of power. She’s got really good mechanics. She generates a lot of bat speed.”

Allen isn’t extremely vocal on the field, but she loves to pass along information that she’s learned to her teammates.

“I think my leadership, my sense of talking to people, learning how other people work, how I can talk to people vs. how I can’t talk to people, has improved,” she said. “Working with a bunch of different kinds of people has helped me become a better leader.”

Allen hopes to study biology at UW and eventually become a veterinarian.

“I’ve always had a special connection with animals,” she said. “I’ve had my own dogs growing up. I’ve had horses. I knew from a really young age that I wanted to do something in the animal field.”

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