Athletics News

Softball

Left is all-Wright with Skipjacks’ hitting star
North Dorchester High graduate leads state in softball batting average

WYE MILLS – Chesapeake College freshman Jordan Wright is leading the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference in hitting.

Not bad for a right-handed player who’s been hitting left-handed all season.

When Skipjacks head coach Durrie Hayes saw Wright, he simply didn’t see a right-handed hitter. He saw a fast, talented athlete who would be an incredibly tough out in the leadoff spot if she was willing to hit from the left side of the plate and slap the ball down the third-base line.

"She didn’t fight the idea of being a slapper," said Hayes, whose Skipjacks (13-11 overall, 9-3 league) play an important 3 p.m. doubleheader Wednesday at Cecil College (16-16, 8-4). "She’s just worked very hard at making it work."

It’s worked so well, in fact, that Wright’s .549 batting average places her atop the state batting race just in front of teammate Erica Kinney’s .538. Wright, a North Dorchester High School graduate who also leads the state with 19 stolen bases, has been a key to the Skipjacks’ offense.

"It’s not so bad – I’ve gotten really used to it. Swinging right-handed now seems awkward to me," said Wright, who was leading the NJCAA Division II batting race last week when she was hitting .579. "I’m getting on base, and I like that."

She’s doing more than just getting on base, according to Hayes.

"With her speed and the way she can steal bases, it’s almost a double every time Jordan gets on – and she gets on a lot," said Hayes. "She also gets on frequently by errors that she forces with her speed."

And Wright isn’t the only Skipjack having a spectacular season. Kinney, who is third in Hayes’ batting order, isn’t just second in the state in hitting. She’s also tied for the league lead in home runs (six) and sixth in RBI (22) despite playing just 14 games.

"I’ve been seeing the ball really well – it kind of looks like a melon coming in," said Kinney, who went 9-for-14 with 11 RBI in four weekend games, including home runs in both ends of a doubleheader against College of Southern Maryland ace Christina Pasquini. "I like facing the better pitching. I really focus more."

Sandwiched between Wright and Kinney in the Skipjack batting order is Easton High graduate Anna Morris, a .361 hitter who is seventh in the state with 21 RBI.

"It’s almost Softball Offense 101," said Hayes. "You want someone who’s fast at the top of the order, then preferably a left-handed number-two hitter who hits for a good average – and that’s Anna. And then you want a power hitter. Erica certainly doesn’t look like a power hitter . . . but she’s strong with great eye-hand coordination."

The top three in Chesapeake’s batting order have scored 70 of the team’s 131 runs and collected 101 of the team’s 197 hits, but Hayes noted the trio couldn’t do it all by themselves.

"It’s not just the top three – we get clutch hits from the rest of the offense," said Hayes. "Up and down the lineup, all of the girls have contributed at one point or another."

And while four Skipjacks are among the offensive league leaders – including Amber Johnson, who is tied for ninth in the state in steals – the team is actually built more around pitching and defense. Wright (5-3 record, 2.50 ERA), Jill Piasecki (5-6, 2.80 ERA), and Melanie Buck (3-1, 2.90 ERA) are seventh, ninth and 10th, respectively, in the state in earned-run average.

"You can have .500 hitters, but unless you have pitching and defense you’re not going to win games. All three of them have stepped up," Hayes said of his pitchers. "I thought from the get-go that Jordan would be our number-one pitcher. She can thrown 57, 58 miles per hour and hit her spots.

"Jill is a drop-ball pitcher who throws a lot of ground balls, which is great because we have such a good infield," said Hayes. "Melanie just came out of nowhere. She throws strikes and keeps the ball down."

Kinney said everyone can take credit for the Skipjacks’ strong season, which includes 10 wins in the last 13 games.

"Everybody has something to offer for the team and it’s all really clicking together well," said Kinney. "We’re playing together as a team."

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