Courage to play for those that can’t
May 18, 2017 10:38AM
By Greg James
Jaguar senior Zoie Hansen is hitting .393 this season and has 11 RBIs. (West Jordan Softball)
By Greg James | [email protected]
West Jordan High School’s softball team plays its games for those who can’t themselves.
“We are playing great,” third-year head coach Jim Oliver said. “We got off to a good start. The girls are hitting the ball, and things are coming together for us. We did not win these games last year. This year we have had more success.”
To begin the season, the team sat down and jotted down goals. They used the Utah High School Activities Association hashtag, #myreasonwhy to give reason to their season. Many of the players cited desire to be better, love of the game and other normal reason kids play sports.
“Each girl made a poster and listed out why they play,” Oliver said. “Many still listed the yellow ribbon from Allison Delgado a couple of years ago (her brother committed suicide); they also are playing for each other. We had a player (Anna Russon) that is a member of the team and wanted to play this season. She was diagnosed with an illness right after the season began and cannot play. Many of our girls listed their reason why as to play for those who can’t.”
The Jaguars are seeing success. They play in one of the toughest regions in the state. At press time they had a 9-4 overall record and had won two of their three region games. Oliver said their pitching will need to handle the stress of going against the top teams.
“Emmie Hicks is a freshman pitcher that has done a nice job,” Oliver said. “She played in the summer with us and has done some rec league and worked on her own, but she has made the difference in a lot of wins.”
As the Jaguars began region play in April, Hicks had a 6-2 record and had struck out 36 opposing hitters. Oliver said velocity is not what makes her a good pitcher; it is the movement she has on each pitch.
“At practice we were working on some side pitching,” Oliver said. “I was being the umpire. Emmie threw a pitch that had a lot of rise and it tipped off the catcher's glove and hit me in the mouth. It made me realize that she is uncomfortable to be in the box against. Her pitches have a lot of action.”
Junior Ali Moffit has taken a big load at pitcher also. She has a 3-2 record. She pitched a complete game for the Jaguars in the first game of the season, a 19-3 victory over Skyline.
Transfers from Casper, Wyoming, sisters Makayla and Andrea Fernandez have helped solidify the lineup. They have combined for five triples and 20 runs batted in.
Senior Gabby Oliver is leading the state in runs scored. A four-year starter, she leads the team with a .643 batting average. Several colleges have expressed interest in her.
The other team captain, Mckenzie Newton, has a .419 batting average and has belted two home runs.
“Our goal is to make state,” Oliver said. “We have three teams in our region that are pretty good (Bingham, Copper Hills and Taylorsville). We want to compete with those teams. We really want to play a game at the Valley Complex (where the 5A state tournament is held).”
The 5A state tournament is scheduled to begin May 16. The Jaguars have not qualified for the tournament in two years.