Softball: Marian Central grad Jenna Golembiewski putting up big power numbers at Miami (Ohio)

RedHawks junior outfielder leads country in slugging percentage, RBIs, 2nd in home runs

Miami Ohio's Jenna Golembiewski, a Marian Central graduate, celebrates in the dugout Feb. 9, 2024, at Hunt Softball Park in Elon, North Carolina.

Power wasn’t always a big part of Jenna Golembiewski’s game.

Her freshman season at Miami (Ohio), the Woodstock native struggled to find her footing, hitting .240 across 30 games (nine starts) with one home run.

But things changed in a big way as a sophomore.

Golembiewski broke out for the NCAA Division I RedHawks and was named the 2023 Mid-American Conference Player of the Year. She ended the season with a .306 batting average, .761 slugging percentage, 36 RBIs and 17 home runs, which was tied for 18th most in the country.

The 2021 Marian Central graduate hasn’t slowed down one bit. In fact, she’s only gotten stronger.

Golembiewski, an outfielder, has spent the majority of the season as the country’s top power hitter. She recently was passed by teammate Karli Spaid, who is third all-time in D-I history with 93 home runs.

Miami Ohio's Jenna Golembiewski, a Marian Central graduate, connects on a pitch.

Miami’s power duo has caught national attention.

Last week, the RedHawks were ranked No. 24 in the country by Softball America, the first time they’ve been a top-25 program. Miami had a 23-game winning streak snapped Sunday by Central Michigan.

Golembiewski’s emerging power has been a big reason why the RedHawks are where they are. Through Friday, her 1.086 slugging percentage is No. 1 in the country, and she’s hitting .430 with 24 homers and 65 RBIs – the most in Division I – over 39 games.

Golembiewski said head coach Kirin Komar and assistant Caitlyn Nolan have helped unlock her power.

“I was always more on the quicker side, not really a power hitter, but things changed once I got [to Miami],” Golembiewski said. “Obviously, I got way better coaching once I got here. They kind of saw that, they kind of saw my potential before I did. It honestly makes me feel unstoppable a little bit and just gives me extra confidence in myself.”

“It honestly makes me feel unstoppable a little bit and just gives me extra confidence in myself.”

—  Jenna Golembiewski, Miami (Ohio) junior outfielder

Even Golembiewski’s teammates are in awe of some of the home runs she hits.

“There’s some home runs I hit and my teammates have said that they just start laughing because the ball is so far gone,” Golembiewski said. “Once I get to the dugout, they’re like, ‘I’ve never seen a ball hit that hard.’ Half the time, I don’t even see how far it goes.

“The fact that I’m able to keep up with [Spaid] is awesome.”

As impressive as Golembiewski’s numbers are now, that wasn’t always the case.

After a freshman season that didn’t produce the results she was looking for, Golembiewski went straight to work in the offseason. She hit every day while home, sometimes with Mason Schwalbach, a Marian graduate now at Kansas State, and Jenna Turner, a Marengo graduate now at NIU. Golembiewski and Turner also worked out together at the Davis Speed Center in Crystal Lake.

“I was hitting a lot. I was hitting one to two times every day,” Golembiewski said. “Some days it would be really bad, others it would be great. But no matter what, I went outside and worked every day. It was also nice to have a friend during that time, too.”

Jenna Golembiewski

Golembiewski didn’t get a junior and senior season in high school. Her junior season was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Marian did not have enough players her senior year. Marian just returned to having a varsity team this spring.

“I do think that kind of set me back a little bit because I wasn’t seeing live pitching going into the summers for travel ball,” Golembiewski said. “So that was a little frustrating. But it was also nice have the time to work on myself. That’s when I started lifting weights, and I think that’s where everything kind of took off.”

Golembiewski lost her mother, LeAnn (Kazmer) Golembiewski, to breast cancer in July 2019 at the age of 45. LeAnn was a standout athlete herself, competing in basketball and track and field at Orange Coast College and UNLV.

Golembiewski’s dad Gus played college football, and her older brother AJ plays baseball at Illinois-Springfield.

During her junior year of high school, Golembiewski and the Hurricanes won a Class 3A regional championship – the program’s first in seven years – in basketball. She came back that season to play basketball after her mom’s passing.

“She was a [heck] of an athlete,” Golembiewski said. “I want to be just like her. Living under her has been a huge push for me not only in sports, but to live my life like her.”

Golembiewski and the RedHawks enter the week with a 36-7 record with one loss in MAC play. She’ll be close to home when Miami plays a three-game set at NIU, starting May 4.

She still has a hard time believing some of the things she’s accomplished.

“It kind of doesn’t seem real, especially because Miami is a smaller school and we haven’t gotten much recognition in the past,” Golembiewski said.

Golembiewski knows there still is a lot of work to be done.

“There’s always something to work on,” she said. “Just because I’m doing good one game doesn’t mean I need to stop practicing.”

Miami Ohio's Jenna Golembiewski, a Marian Central graduate, points to the sky after hitting a home run.