By Rudy Moya
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
In 2008, Lexy Bennett, a shy, quiet, shortstop from Kingwood, Texas, stepped foot on campus to begin her career as a Texas Longhorn. Bennett believed she was "pretty shy" her first year with the ballclub because "coming to (Texas) was a major change for me."
But as she progressed through her freshman season, Bennett attests she "came out of my shell."
Now fast-forward to today. The 2012 season marks the fourth year Bennett takes to the dirt at Red & Charline McCombs Field. In her senior campaign, Bennett has hit a team-best .528 batting average, including five home runs, 32 RBI, and so far has posted a slugging percentage of .981, in just 20 games for the Longhorns this season.
Bennett is also currently on pace to break the school's RBI record, held by Lauren Johnson (2007-10). Bennett currently has 130 RBI, only nine shy of Johnson's 139 RBI mark.
However, Bennett is not all about hitting numbers. She is also a stellar performer on defense as well, currently posting a fielding percentage of 1.000, with 22 assists and 31 put outs.
Bennett, who has started since her freshman year, has emerged into a team leader this season. Head Coach Connie Clark named Bennett one of the team's three captains this year, along with fellow seniors Nadia Taylor and Courtney Craig.
"Now I'm one of the captains on this team and I always talk, I think I'm really comfortable being around these people. This is like my family, it just took me some time," Bennett said.
Clark couldn't agree more with Bennett's statement.
"It's been fun to see her really grow into being a captain and just becoming more vocal," Clark said. "No doubt she was always somebody who led by example through work ethic or just her athletic abilities from day one as a freshman."
Leading by example is one of the defining characteristics of Bennett because she puts in a lot of extra work on her own time. Bennett firmly believes that you have to put in the work to continue to get better.
"In season, practices get shorter, because (it) takes a toll on our body and so taking that extra 20 minutes to get your fundamentals and sticking to the basics of hitting is really important," Bennett said.
Bennett even takes to the cages before home games.
"I try to come out before game time and have someone (throw) front toss to me and (then I) do some tee-work," Bennett said. "I've grown up doing (these drills) from my old hitting coach. It's kind of like a routine for me now, I've been doing it for the past two years so I feel weird if I don't do it."
Clark adds:"I think that if you asked her teammates what one or two things would stand out (about Bennett), they would say her commitment to working on her own and putting in the extra hours. You love to see the outcomes come along with the extra work because you can't always determine results in our game. It's such a crazy game, but its nice to see someone who puts in that type of consistent work ethic, get that consistent results."
As well as Bennett's extra efforts off the field, UT's coaches, players and fans also notice her efforts on the field.
Clark believes that Bennett is "probably one of the top three hitters in the nation."
"I don't know what order you would put the top three in, (but) she's tremendous," Clark continued. "I'm just glad she is wearing the Texas uniform and that we aren't having to pitch against her."
Bennett's fellow captain Craig says that Bennett's competitive spirit carries over to all the Longhorns.
"Lexy is a great competitor period," Craig said. "You can tell she is just very focused on the games and very focused in the dugout. She is always telling you little tips for you to progress (and allows you) to do better in the game. She is a great team player with great competitive spirit. She gives her all in every game, every at bat, every pitch, just all the time -- just 100 percent great."
Craig describes Bennett as "the rock of the team."
"I don't think she knows it, but the team knows it," Craig said. "She holds this team together on the field. She brings the energy, (and) she brings all the components that we need to complete the game."