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Suffolk Softball Sensations: Noel Lent, Longwood
Noel Lent is as versatile a player as there is on the Longwood softball team for coach Jackie Legnon. Not only does Lent hit for a high average as the starting shortstop, batting .462, with an on-base percentage of .483, a slugging percentage of .827 and an on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.310, but the senior also gets it done in the circle.
Lent is currently 5-1 and shares the pitching duties with Samantha Valentine for the defending League I champs, who are battling with Commack (12-1) atop the league standings this season. The Lions are in second place at 12-2, with the help of Lent, who has a fielding percentage of .854, 1.00 ERA, with 31 strikeouts and a .79 WHIP.
"She's just really a hard worker," said Legnon of Lent, a senior and three-year varsity starter. "She keeps the team and herself focused. She will lead the team for you."
Next season, Lent will do her best to lead Seton Hall University, where she will be committed to playing the shortstop position for the Pirates' ball club, or as she better put it, “as long as I’m on the field, I’m happy.”
"She knows exactly what needs to be done," Legnon said. "It's a blessing for a coach. She's not satisfied. If we're taking ground balls at practice, she always says, 'Give me another one'. She has that drive to always do her best."
After practice yesterday, Lent answered some easy questions that made her laugh at times, while giving some more in-depth analysis to how she approaches the game on a day-in, day-out basis for Legnon and company.
1) Explain the success this season for Longwood. "From top to bottom, regardless of who is playing, we're a hard working team. In games, our bench is cheering us on throughout. Everyone is a part of the team, working on trying to get better."
2) What have you learned the most by playing shortstop and pitcher? "At shortstop, I feel like it controls the field. It's an all-around athlete position. At pitcher, I understand the game more when it comes to certain pitches at the plate."
3) What's your favorite pitch to throw? "The curveball. I feel like it's the hardest pitch for batter's to catch up to. They can't hit to the right side, it's tough to pull, and it's not as easy to go with the pitch.
4) What's the best ground ball to field? "The ones up the middle. My momentum is already going to first base."
5) Biggest hit in your career was against who? "Last year, in a game* against Connetquot, we were down 6-0 in the top of the first inning. I got up to the plate and hit a three-run homer to centerfield that changed the whole momentum. It made it 6-3 at that point and we eventually came out on top."
*Lent's three-run homer and Valentine's 6 2/3 innings of scoreless pitching in relief helped second-seeded Longwood (20-1) best No. 11 Connetquot, 10-6, in a Suffolk Class AA semifinal on May 26, 2012.
6) What's your favorite iPod song? Taylor Swift - 22
7) Who is the most vocal member of the team? Who makes you laugh? "We're a very well-rounded group that respects the coaching staff. [Outfielder] Jamie Thorbjornsen has a lot of heart for the game. It really shows during the games. All the girls have that positive energy because we've been a successful team. Valentine and Kylie Spillett make me laugh. Everything they do, even if I strikeout, they always cheer me up. They never make us look bad. They've always got a smile on their face. "
8) Do you have any superstitions in preparation for a game? "No, I take everything day-by-day and move on. It's over with. Don't believe in them."
9) What's going to be your college major and what career job would you most want to hold? "Physical Education. I feel like it's a fun job. I'll always look forward to getting up in the morning and going to work."
10) Favorite movie? "The Notebook. It's a cute movie."
11) Nickname? "No-No. My teammates call me that. I like it better than Noel. It's something different. It creates a fun atmosphere when I hear it. I've pitched a couple of no-no's."
12) Three places you would love to visit that you haven't been to yet? "Italy, Hawaii and the Dominican Republic."
13) Who are three famous people you would love to have a dinner date with? "Actors Channing Tatum and Zac Efron and country singer Hunter Hayes."