Freshman Jerri Leffew breaking out for Gatlinburg-Pittman

Mar. 16, 2014 @ 12:06 PM

 Jerri Leffew’s batting numbers are impressive enough.

But you have to see the Gatlinburg-Pittman freshman’s effortless swing to appreciate it.

“Honestly, I called my college coach and I said, ‘Coach, I’ve got this freshman that swings the bat better than anybody did on our team in college,’ ” said Highlanders coach Haley Johnson.

“She still has some work to do but the great thing about Jerri is she knows she does. She comes in every day and she works so hard.”

Opponents are learning the hard way just how dangerous Leffew can be. It took until her fourth at-bat for The King’s Academy to walk the freshman on Thursday. By then, Leffew had already helped G-P score the game’s first six runs en route to a 6-4 win.

Her two doubles and a triple on the day made for one of her more pedestrian performances, though. She did almost hit for the cycle in her high school debut.

“(Leffew) is about as good of a hitter as I’ve seen in a while,” said Lions coach Marc Weekly. “She’s doing a really good job and a freshman.”

That’s high praise coming from Weekly, who served for years as an assistant at the University of Tennessee.  So far, Leffew’s stats justify it. She’s batting .786 with 11 hits and 13 RBI in four games. Only four of her 15 plate appearances haven’t been hits and all 11 of her hits are for extra bases.

It all began with an eye-opening first game against Cherokee (N.C.) when Leffew doubled, tripled and homered in a 14-8 victory. “I was feeling amazing,” Leffew said. “It was crazy. That’s never happened to me before. ... Used to, I would hit ground balls in the infield. Every once in a while it’d be to the outfield. Now, it’s always to the outfield.”

At about 5-foot-8, Leffew has an imposing presence at the plate for a freshman. Johnson said Leffew has the strength to generate power and swat the ball to the wall, something she did a couple times against TKA pitcher Haven Taylor on Thursday.

Senior Bethanie Trees, who is second on the team behind Leffew with four doubles, said she’s proud of her teammate’s early success but she’s not surprised. She’s just happy to have a virtually automatic two bases every time Leffew steps to the plate.

“She has the stats. Shes has the power. She has the swing,” Trees said. “She has it all. She comes in every day looking to get better and better.

“And she does.”