It was the second game of a doubleheader on April 9 at Bittinger Stadium in West Lafayette, Indiana. IU softball was taking on Purdue for another edition of the Crimson and Gold series.
Senior left fielder Gabbi Jenkins was on second base after hitting a double during the top of the seventh inning. A pass ball let up by Purdue junior catcher Kaeley Hallada gave Jenkins the opportunity to steal third base.
At that moment, she slid into third and set the program’s stolen bases record with the 91st of her career.
“Well the 91st one was kind of anticlimactic,” Jenkins said. “More of what goes through my mind are the hard fought ones or the ones from first to second. It was so much less about the moment of the 91st than it was the 37th or 45th or the 86th, or even the one stealing home.”
After the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 NCAA softball season, the team had time to reflect on what each individual could accomplish this season. It was then that Jenkins realized how close she was to the record of 90 stolen bases set by former third baseman Aimee Lonigro from 1994-97.
“It wasn’t a goal of mine at the start of my career as it wasn’t in sight,” Jenkins continued. “But this summer, we did a study of our record book during our downtime due to COVID-19. It then caught my eye that I only needed 19 more bases.”
Since the Purdue series, Jenkins has stolen two more bases to make the program record 93 and taken the lead in the Big Ten for doubles with 13 this season.
Jenkins said that head coach Shonda Stanton knew the number relatively, but was going to make sure that she would break the record by end of the season.
“She's a very detail-oriented person,” Jenkins said. “Once we both knew the exact number, I knew the steal sign was coming a lot and that was the weekend I stole six bases against Rutgers.”
Stanton, who was named the ninth head coach in program history after the 2017 season, said Jenkins is one of the most unique human beings she’s ever been around
“You won’t find a more unique and special 18-22 year old that is so passionate about building relationships.” Stanton said. “She’s a Hoosier through and through”
Jenkins said she was humble about the new record she set, but her teammates were ready to celebrate and congratulate her on breaking the 25-season-old record.
“Gabbi perfectly encapsulates what it means to work hard and have a goal,” senior infielder Grayson Radcliffe said. “She’s a very humble person. Even on Sunday when the Golden Shoe award was presented, she made an analogy saying ‘there’s no me without you guys’ and she made the moment about the team more so than herself.”
Originally from Floyds Knobs, Indiana, Jenkins grew up an IU fan. Her family have been men’s basketball season ticket holders since they graduated from IU. She said being at IU and getting to wear the jersey each day means more to her than anything else.
“Being from Indiana makes this special, but it doesn’t just have to be breaking a record or anything like that, but repping the Indiana script is something I value highly and love,” Jenkins said.