By Shehan Jeyarajah
When it comes to fielding, the shortstop is often considered to be the most important position on a softball field. The shortstop is expected to cover more ground and make more split second plays than arguably any other position on the diamond.
On a team with four accomplished seniors, junior shortstop Jordan Strickland still steps up to be a leader among Baylor’s softball team.
“I’ve always felt the shortstop is the position of leadership,” Strickland said. “If you’re not a leader in other aspects of the team, it’s very important for me to be a leader out there and lead the infield and be a voice. I want to give all I have and show leadership by example.”
Strickland arrived at Baylor for the 2012 season with big shoes to fill.
Former starting shortstop Dani Leal was named an All-American in 2011 and was part of a run to the 2011 Women’s College World Series.
Strickland was asked to start in Leal’s place, and has excelled. In her third season starting, she is hitting .260, but with a slugging percentage of .504 and nine home runs in 127 at-bats this season. She has also started in all but one of Baylor’s 45 games this season at her signature position.
“This is my third year doing this and I’ve just built confidence and the team around me has made things a lot easier,” Strickland said. “I think the difference for me is a personal mentality.”
That mentality has added a power element to her game that she did not have in seasons past. The fireworks were out in full force against Oklahoma State this past weekend.
Strickland hit multiple home runs in consecutive games and compiled 12 RBIs on those four hits alone.
“My teammates did a great job of being on base for me to be able to perform,” Strickland said. “It’s really easy when you just have a team that helps you perform to your best level.”
Coming into 2014, Strickland had hit four homers in her career to date.
“When she’s hot, she’s as hot as any kid we’ve ever had in this program when she’s seeing the ball well,” head coach Glenn Moore said. “She’s had some great moments this year and has been really big at times.”
For her efforts in the Oklahoma State series, Strickland was named Big 12 Player of the Week.
She also earned a Big 12 Player of the Week award for her performance in the SportCo Kickoff Classic in Las Vegas, Nev.
In five games, she scored five runs, hit three homers and compiled nine RBIs, including a grand slam against San Diego.
“Jordan’s been a great player all three of her years,” senior catcher Clare Hosack said. “I don’t think any of this is unexpected. She’s a great shortstop and great hitter and it’s just great that people are recognizing it.”
Strickland has been an essential part of a successful Baylor softball program this season.
The Bears sit ranked No. 13 in the country. The Bears are 38-12 overall and 9-4 in Big 12 Conference play.
Baylor has struggled at times during this winning season, but Strickland is confident in her team being able to accomplish something great this season.
“We will get out of it,” Strickland said. “We’ve seen how good we can be and just want to keep fighting until we get back. The door will bust down sooner or later.”