All-Met right fielder Danielle Jenkins is such an aggressive base runner that even when she gets tagged out, she leaves an impression -- on her Madison High School softball teammates, coaches and opposing catchers' equipment.
Ten years ago, no one thought she would even be playing.
Jenkins, then 8, was told by doctors she might not be able to run again after she was hit by a car. Her left leg and kneecap were broken and her right leg required 50 stitches. Doctors said her left leg was so damaged that it might not grow anymore.
"I kept trying to walk on it, and was falling down all the time," said Jenkins. "I was in a cast for a few months and did not know what would happen. But when they cut the cast off, I was lucky because everything had healed well."
It healed well enough, in fact, to make the 5-foot-8 senior one of the area's best base runners entering this season.
Last spring, Jenkins had a .487 batting average, hitting safely in 22 of the Warhawks' 24 games. She had an on-base average of .562, scoring 25 runs and stealing 22 bases.
Jenkins and junior pitcher Morgan Marr (1.18 earned run average) are two of the reasons the Vienna school was 18-6 last season and is expected to field one of the best teams in the Virginia AAA Northern Region this season.
"Basically if she gets on base she is going to score," said Langley Coach Dean Ferrington, whose team lost to Madison, 8-2, Monday.
He added, however, that he remembers Jenkins more for a play in which she did not score.
"When we played them two years ago, there was a close play at the plate," he said. "Jenkins slid in so aggressively, the velocity of her slide dented our catcher's steel knee protector. In my 10 years of coaching, I have never seen anything like that."
Jenkins began playing softball after her leg healed, and was primarily a pitcher until her sophomore season at Madison. Coach Chris Dilandro, then in his first season, asked Jenkins and a couple of other pitchers to move to the field and let Marr be the No. 1 pitcher. Two players transferred and became starting pitchers at other schools. Jenkins stayed at Madison.
"It was a tough situation," said Dilandro. "There were some good pitchers here. But I thought the team would be better off with just one regular starter. Danielle showed a lot of character to stay."
That character was tested by tragic circumstances. Martha Jenkins, Danielle's mother, died in September 1996, leaving behind Danielle, her father, Wendell, a receiver for Safeway, and her 17-year-old brother Allen, a junior at Madison.
"I still really miss her," she said of her mother. "I really miss her most when the girls on the team talk about doing things with their mothers.
"But I am starting to feel better now. Last year it was hard to focus sometimes. Before her death I could control my feelings. Then last year, all of a sudden, I would just feel sad for a couple days out of the blue." CAPTION: Senior Danielle Jenkins overcame a serious leg injury to become one of the area's best. Last season she batted .487.